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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Sajjan discusses fight against ISIL with counterparts in Baghdad; Possible Additional Canadian Trainers

By: The Canadian Press 

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan met with his Iraqi and Kurdistan counterparts in Baghdad on Monday to discuss Canada's ongoing contribution to the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Jordan Owens, a spokeswoman for the minister, said Sajjan arrived in Iraq after attending the recent NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland.

She said U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter was also in Iraq, but that he and Sajjan were not together.

Owens said she could not provide details of Sajjan's discussions, adding the minister will discuss his visit later in a telephone conference call with the media.

The Liberal government announced in May that it was expanding its contribution to the fight against ISIL to include three CH-146 Griffon helicopters, an intelligence centre and additional trainers to what is called Operation IMPACT.

It said that would triple the size of Canada's mission to train, advise and help Iraqi security forces plan and conduct military operations against ISIL.

Sajjan will return to Canada on Thursday.

Additional Content by: David Pugliese,

Sajjan’s visit also coincided with a trip to Baghdad by U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.

At the end of the recent NATO summit, Canada announced it would contribute to an alliance program to train Iraqi troops in disposing of improvised explosive devices.

But at the time Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not offer any details about the mission, such as numbers of personnel, duration of their mission, and where they would be operating in Iraq. “The fact is from the beginning we have always talked about the broad range of activities we can do in support of the local troops,” Trudeau told reporters.

The Kuwait News Agency, citing Iraqi officials, reported that Canada will be providing military engineers as part of the training package.

NATO has been training Iraqi personnel in counter-IED operations at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Centre in Amman, Jordan. NATO is also providing “train the trainer” instruction, enabling the officers to build the professionalism of the Iraqi forces by sharing their new skills with colleagues with the support of the NATO Counter Improvised Explosive Devices Centre of Excellence, the alliance added in an earlier news release.

At the request of the Iraqi government, NATO is now assessing the possibility of conducting training inside Iraq as well, NATO pointed out.