Canadian airstrikes targeted ISIS equipment near Iraqi dam: commander
Published Tuesday, November 4, 2014 3:45PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, November 4, 2014 6:24PM EST
Canada’s CF-18 fighter jets destroyed heavy engineering and construction equipment being used by Islamic State militants trying interfere with a major dam on the Euphrates River in Iraq, the commander of the Canadian Joint Operations Command said Tuesday.
Those first successful airstrikes occurred Sunday, and involved 500-pound laser-guided bombs, Lt.-Gen. Jonathan Vance told reporters.
He said ISIS militants had set up equipment at a dam near Fallujah, and were trying to interfere with the flow of the river to create targeted flooding that would displace civilians and force them to take roads planted with improvised explosive devices.
Vance showed a brief video of one of the exploding ISIS targets and said there was no collateral damage in Sunday’s airstrikes. He said he will not be disclosing the number of ISIS militants, if any, killed in each coalition airstrike.
Vance said ISIS militants have anti-aircraft weaponry, but have not used it. In any case, he said, Canadian CF-18s have protective measures to guard against such weapons.
Canada’s first strikes against ISIS included air-to-air refuelling from a Polaris aircraft and the deployment of the Aurora surveillance plane.
All aircraft returned safely to their base in Kuwait.
Canada has contributed six CF-18 fighter jets, two CP-140 Aurora surveillance planes, the C-150 refuelling jet and approximately 600 personnel to the multinational anti-ISIS mission. The aircraft are currently committed to a six-month mission.
Vance said Tuesday that despite ongoing coalition airstrikes since September, ISIS remains intent on capturingthe Iraqi capital of Baghdad. But Iraqi security forces have been pushing back in the regions surrounding Baghdad and elsewhere in the country, he said.
Although progress has been made in the fight against ISIS, airstrikes alone will not defeat it, Vance said.
“They contribute to a military offensive capacity that, combined with ground manoeuvre, will result in (ISIS) defeat in Iraq,” he said.
The fight against ISIS “will be led by Iraqis themselves,” Vance said.
“And that is why we are actively supporting them.”