Canada keeps supplying Kurdistan with military aid
“The Kurds don’t have experience in fighting in urban areas, something IS has excelled at,” Kurdish official.
Lt.-Gen. Jabbar Yawar, secretary-general of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs, has pointed out that although the Canadian bomb-hunting robots are to arrive soon, Kurdish troops have no idea how to disarm the explosives once they are located. No one has offered any training in that area.
Yawar told the Los Angeles Times newspaper that such homemade bombs are the most dangerous threat Kurdish forces face, noting they have accounted for 60 per cent of those killed.
As many as 69 Canadian special forces advisers are now in Kurdistan to help Kurdish Peshmarga forces and Iraqi troops.
Johanna Quinney, spokeswoman for Defence Minister Rob Nicholson, said the Canadian Forces is not involved in the robot project.
Adam Hodge, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, said training will be provided on how to use the robots. “The selected supplier(s) will send a trainer to Erbil to deliver training on the use and maintenance of the equipment, and will also deliver a train-the-trainer component,” explained Hodge. “This will ensure the proper usage and care of the equipment, as well as optimal use and sustainability.”
But, Hodge added, “the trainer will only travel if the security situation permits.”
He did not have details on whether the Canadian aid would include training the Kurds in how to disarm the bombs once they are found.
The deal with the unnamed robot supplier has just recently been signed, so details are still being worked out, a government source said.
Baird travelled to Iraq in early September to pledge Canada’s help in the war against the Islamic State (IS) and to announce the military aid. That aid also includes bullet-proof vests and helmets.
“Canada will not stand idly by while IS continues to murder innocent civilians, including members of ethnic and religious minorities,” Baird said.
Paul Dewar, the NDP foreign affairs critic who travelled with Baird to Iraq, said the lack of training for the Kurds appears to be typical of the Conservative’s Iraq mission. “The government is big on rhetoric, but lacking in details about what they plan for this mission,” Dewar said. “You get the feeling they’re making it up as they go along.”
Dewar said he is also concerned about the potential for the robots and other Canadian-supplied equipment to fall into the hands of IS.
Despite ongoing U.S.led airstrikes, IS has been gaining ground as well as capturing U.S. equipment, including tanks and other armoured vehicles, supplied to Iraq’s military.
The Kurds have complained that despite receiving military aid and equipment from various nations, they still lack the skills and gear needed to properly fight IS. Yawar said the Kurds don’t have experience in fighting in urban areas, something IS has excelled at.
The Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs has been requesting additional arms and training during the weekly meetings it has with allies, including Canada, the U.S., Britain, Italy, France, Germany, and Australia.
The Peshmerga Ministry and Canada recently signed a protocol on the military goods.
“According to the protocol, phase one will include a variety of military equipment for Peshmerga, the most important being the de-mining robots that can be used for finding and defusing mines and bombs,” the Peshmerga Ministry noted in a statement.
The Canadian military has already transported ammunition, weapons and other equipment to Kurdish forces. Canada will send CF-18 fighter jets and other aircraft to join the coalition that is bombing IS.
Canada has also committed humanitarian assistance and will provide funding to limit the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq and Syria.
Kurdish commanders have also complained that the central government in Baghdad is enforcing tight control over the country’s air space, which limits incoming flights carrying weapons and other equipment.
The Canadian military has already transported ammunition, weapons and other equipment to Kurdish forces that are fighting IS. IS had seized large parts of Iraq and forced Iraqi military units to retreat on a number of fronts.