Cana­dian troops in Iraq shift pres­sure to ISIL around Syr­ian bor­der

Cape Breton Post - - CANADA -

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.

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