Canada freezes Iraq military training over Kurdish tensions

Canada freezes Iraq military training over Kurdish tensions
Recent fighting between Iraqi and Kurdish forces has led Canada to suspend military training to Baghdad.
2 min read
28 October, 2017
Canadian forces have been providing training to Iraqi security forces [file photo-Getty]

Canada has suspended military training to the Iraqi army, following recent fighting between pro-Baghdad forces and Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq.

Canadian special forces had been providing military assistance to both sides during the Kurdish and Iraqi campaigns against the Islamic State group.

Tensions between Baghdad and Erbil over a Kurdish referendum vote has led to clashes between the two groups leading Canada to suspend training to Peshmerga and Iraqi special forces, the National Post reported.

"Given the fluidity of the current situation, Canada's Special Operations Task Force has temporarily suspended the provision of assistance to various elements of Iraqi security forces," Canadian forces spokesman Col. Jay Janzen said.

"Once more clarity exists regarding the interrelationships of Iraqi security forces, and the key priorities and tasks going forward, the Task Force will resume activities... In the interim, they will continue to monitor the situation and plan for the next potential phases of operational activity."

Canada's defence ministry said that training will resume once "more clarity exists regarding the inter-relationships of Iraqi security forces, and the key priorities and tasks going forward".

Earlier this week, Canada announced it would suspend the supply of small arms to Kurdish forces due to tensions.

Trouble between Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Iraqi government erupted following a referendum in Kurdish territories last month, when voters overwhelmingly backed independence from Iraq.

Iraqi forces launched an offensive of the disputed Kurdish-held city of Kirkuk and drove deeper towards KRG territories.

A halt to hosilities was announced on Friday by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi although smaller clashes rumbled on.

Canada is a key player in an international coalition backing anti-IS forces in Iraq through 210 troops, providing training, intelligence and logistics support to Kurdish and Iraqi fighters.