Canada's defence minister acknowledges the risks to Canadian troops serving in Iraq, as the federal government refocuses military efforts on training Iraqis to fight Islamic State militants.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said the risk will come largely due to the higher number of troops that will be deployed in Iraq, when Canada ends airstrikes and shifts its attention to training on Feb. 22.

"This is a conflict zone – it comes with risk," Sajjan told CTV's Canada AM on Tuesday. "We can't obviously mitigate the risks to zero."

The defence minister would not specify exactly how many Canadian troops will be deployed to Iraq, but he did say Canada's "training capacity will be tripled."

There are currently 69 special forces trainers assisting local troops in Iraq.

Sajjan stressed the importance of teaching Iraqi forces to fight, so they can more effectively defend against ISIS forces.

He added that Canada will be arming the Iraqi forces most in need of it, and will be training them in accordance with international law.

"We're not going to be equipping all of the forces," he said.