March 31, 2017 11:04 am
Updated: March 31, 2017 11:07 am

Canadian special forces taking more active role in Iraq as Liberals extend ISIS mission

Canadian special forces look over a Peshmerga observation post, Monday, February 20, 2017 in northern Iraq.

The Canadian Press/Ryan Remiorz

OTTAWA – Canadian special forces are taking a more active role in the battle for Mosul, where ISIS continues to hold on despite weeks of bloody fighting.

National Defence says some of the 200 Canadian special forces in northern Iraq have entered east Mosul and are now helping the Iraqi military free the western half of the city.

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That represents a significant shift as the Canadians had largely avoided Mosul and spent little time with the Iraqi military, working instead with Kurdish forces to the north and east.

READ MORE: Liberal contradicts defence minister, says troops fighting ISIS are at greater risk

Defence officials say some of that work still continues, with other Canadian soldiers identifying and tracking ISIL movement along Iraq’s border with Syria.

News of the shift comes as the Liberal government says it is extending the mission until June 30.

The government is hoping the battle for Mosul will be over by then, at which point it will have a better handle on the long-term needs in Iraq.

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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