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Canada Temporarily Suspends Military Assistance to Iraqi Troops

Canada Temporarily Suspends Military Assistance to Iraqi Troops

Saturday, 28 October, 2017 - 07:00
File photo: Iraqi army soldiers fire their weapons during a fight with ISIS militants north of Mosul. REUTERS/Ari Jalal

Canadian special forces have temporarily suspended military assistance to Iraqi troops due to tensions between the country's central government and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, the defense ministry said Friday.

Cooperation will resume "once more clarity exists regarding the inter-relationships of Iraqi security forces, and the key priorities and tasks going forward," said Dan Le Bouthillier, a spokesman for Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan.

Earlier Friday, Iraqi forces paused operations against the Kurds to allow for talks after the two sides -- both armed and trained by the US -- exchanged heavy artillery fire in the latest flare-up of a crisis sparked by the September Kurdish independence vote.

Canada, which is part of the international coalition fighting ISIS, said that although its special forces were suspending their mission in training and assisting Iraqi forces in the country's north, its work in other areas continued.

That includes supporting the coalition in tactical aviation, intelligence, targeting, command and control, and at a medical facility.

Canada tripled its special forces contingent in Iraq in February 2016 to 210 troops.

Friday’s announcement came after a German Defense Ministry spokesman said earlier this week that Germany's army will continue to ensure that weapons supplied by the country will only be used in the fight against ISIS.

One day prior, the German army announced it had restarted training peshmerga fighters, despite the tension between the Iraqi government and the Kurds.

Last week, the German government said it had temporally suspended training peshmerga because it had sought to "always ensure the unity of Iraq."

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