OTTAWA — Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says military commanders are re-assessing Canada’s future role in Iraq following a declaration that the country has been completely liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over ISIL earlier this month after the militant group was pushed from the last pockets of territory that it had occupied in the country.
Unlike in previous battles, Canadian special forces were not involved in that final push; they were ordered to suspend all support to Iraqi and Kurdish forces when tensions erupted between those two sides in October.
Speaking to reporters following a trip to the region, Sajjan says the fight against ISIL went faster than expected but more work needs to be done to ensure Iraq remains stable and Canadian officials are working with allies to determine what will be needed in the coming months.
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Options are expected to be presented to the government in the new year, though it’s likely that Canada’s focus will be on training Iraqi forces to better protect against potential threats inside and outside the country.
Canada has had military forces in Iraq for the past three years; they are currently scheduled to remain in the country for another 15 months.