Canada pauses military assistance to Iraqi troops

AFP , Saturday 28 Oct 2017

An Iraqi family sits on the rubble of their home in the village of Barzan, in the Zummar area of Nineveh province, northwest of Mosul, on October 27, 2017 (photo: AFP)

Canadian special forces have temporarily suspended military assistance to Iraqi troops due to tensions between the Middle Eastern country's military and Kurdish 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 a Kurdish independence vote last month.

Canada, which is part of the international coalition fighting the Islamic State group, 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.

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