Cana­dian sol­diers shift­ing their fo­cus to­ward re­build­ing of Iraq

Devel­op­ment work to aid in coun­try’s tran­si­tion and help pro­vide more sta­bil­ity

StarMetro Vancouver - - CANADA & WORLD - Bruce Cam­pion-smith

Ot­tawa—cana­dian spe­cial forces sol­diers have been help­ing Iraqi forces root out a dwin­dling num­ber of Daesh fighters in Iraq as in­ter­na­tional ef­forts shift to the longterm sta­bil­ity of the coun­try to pre­vent a resur­gence of the ex­trem­ist move­ment.

Canada and the United States jointly hosted a meet­ing in Gatineau, Que., of sev­eral na­tions in­volved in the coali­tion to counter Daesh to dis­cuss next steps in a strat­egy that is mov­ing to sta­bi­liza­tion, De­fence Min­is­ter Har­jit Sa­j­jan said.

“We’re talk­ing about what sta­bi­liza­tion looks like, where do we need to put the right re­sources and mak­ing sure that tran­si­tion piece works well. The fi­nal piece I like to say is we should not get lulled into a false sense of se­cu­rity. We need to be very vig­i­lant to mak­ing sure there is no type of resur­gence,” Sa­j­jan told re­porters Thurs­day af­ter the meet­ing.

The “mil­i­tary buys you time” but the devel­op­ment work will now come into greater fo­cus to as­sist Iraq’s tran­si­tion, no­tably around help­ing re­set­tle the thou­sands of peo­ple dis­placed by the vi­o­lence, Sa­j­jan said.

“The sup­port that’s needed for sta­bi­liza­tion is ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal be­cause of the devel­op­ment work,” he said.

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of de­fence staff, told a par­lia­men­tary brief­ing Thurs­day that Iraqi forces, as­sisted by the coali­tion, have re­claimed 98 per cent of the ter­ri­tory from Daesh ex­trem­ists.

Cana­dian spe­cial forces sol­diers have been as­sist­ing Iraqi se­cu­rity forces with in­tel­li­gence gath­er­ing and sup­port­ing their op­er­a­tions as they seek out the re­main­ing Daesh fighters but most days, there’s “very lit­tle fight­ing, mostly none,” Vance said.

“They con­duct op­er­a­tions to sup­port and as­sist Iraqi se­cu­rity forces in en­sur­ing that any pock­ets of ISIL or Daesh do not reemerge,” Vance told the Com­mons’ de­fence com­mit­tee.

As the coali­tion shifts its pri­or­i­ties, it faces the chal­lenge of go­ing from “win­ning the bat­tle and the ki­netic war to se­cur­ing the peace,” the gen­eral said. While the threat of Daesh has di­min­ished, Vance sug­gested that the gover­nance, eco­nomic and so­cial prob­lems that con­tributed to the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s rise in Iraq still ex­ist.

Get the full story at thes­tar.com/pol­i­tics

Cana­dian spe­cial forces sol­diers have helped re­claim 98 per cent of the ter­ri­tory in Iraq from Daesh ex­trem­ists.

RYAN REMIORZ/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

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