Canadian soldiers shifting their focus toward rebuilding of Iraq
Development work to aid in country’s transition and help provide more stability
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.
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Canadian special forces soldiers have helped reclaim 98 per cent of the territory in Iraq from Daesh extremists.