'No change' to Canadian mission in Iraq after friendly fire death: DND
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, March 20, 2015 12:00PM EDT
There has been “no change” to the Special Operations mission in northern Iraq in the wake of a Canadian soldier’s death by friendly fire earlier this month, according to the Department of National Defence.
Capt. Paul Forget of the Canadian Joint Operations Command made the comment as he updated reporters on Operation Impact, Canada’s contribution to the coalition anti-Islamic State mission.
Sgt. Andrew Doiron was killed on March 6, when he and other special operations forces were fired upon by Kurdish forces as they returned to an observation post well behind the front lines. Three other soldiers were injured.
Despite the incident, Canada’s special ops continue to conduct their advise and assist mission with Kurdish forces battling militants in northern Iraq, Forget said Friday, and are working to maintain their working relationship to prevent a similar incident from happening in the future.
“There’s been no change to the mission,” Forget said at the briefing Friday.
Asked whether Canadian soldiers have exchanged fire with ISIS fighters since Doiron’s death, Forget said no.
“It’s a very exceptional circumstance if and when that does occur,” he said.
He also said that the results of a technical investigation into Doiron’s death will likely be released, with redactions.
The Canadian Forces has a six-month mandate to contribute to the coalition airstrike mission against ISIS that is set to expire on April 7. There are about 600 personnel on the ground, as well as about 69 special operations forces training Kurdish forces in the north.
To date, Canadian CF-18 Hornets have conducted 420 sorties, including 53 airstrikes. Most recently, CF-18s struck ISIS equipment and fighting positions northeast of Mosul earlier Friday, Forget said.
Canada's Aurora surveillance aircraft have conducted 117 reconnaissance and surveillance missions.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said earlier this week that he will put forward a proposal to extend and expand the mission when the House of Commons returns next week.
He suggested it is possible that the mission’s mandate could be extended to Syria.
Asked what the Canadian military is doing to prepare for a possible mission expansion, Forget would only say that the forces are “ready to support any decision that may be made by the government.”