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.

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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