Canadian troops in Iraq shift pressure to ISIL around Syrian border
ERBIL, Iraq — Canadian special forces have shifted their operations in northern Iraq to put pressure on ISIL in places outside Mosul, including along the border with Syria.
When the first Canadian soldiers arrived in the country in September 2014, their mission was to help train the peshmerga to stop and hold back a confident and, until then, undefeated ISIL hoard.
Kurdish forces, supported by the Canadians, then kicked off a long-anticipated attack to free Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, from ISIL in October.
But the Kurds and their Canadian comrades stopped short of Mosul, as planned. Instead, they shifted to fighting the extremist group in other ways and let the Iraqi military enter and clear ISIL from the city.
Now a special forces officer says the Canadian mission has turned toward identifying and monitoring potential ISIL targets in the area.
That includes keeping tabs through optical sights and other means, on what he calls “key enemy movement corridors’’ between Iraq and Syria as well as areas inside and immediately outside Kurdish territory.
Speaking on condition of anonymity due to security concerns, the officer says such monitoring helped locate ISIL forces inside a large town that was sidestepped during the early parts of the Mosul offensive and needed cleaning up.