Published Monday, August 15, 2016 10:00PM EDT
Exclusive: Canadian-trained forces clearing the way to retake Mosul from ISIS
CTV News has learned that Canadian-backed Kurdish forces have spent the past 48 hours clearing the way to take back Mosul, the last major stronghold of ISIS and its de facto capital in Iraq.
The Peshmerga spent Sunday and Monday reclaiming a dozen villages near Iraq’s second-biggest city, sources told CTV’s Mercedes Stephenson.
The Canadian Special Forces helped the Kurdish troops plan the operation and remained close enough to the combat that they could see the fighting and provide real-time advice -- but they were not on the frontline.
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No Canadian soldiers were injured.
David Fraser, a former NATO commander in Afghanistan, called Mosul “the most important objective” for the U.S.-led coalition.
ISIS fighters took the city in June 2014, despite being vastly outnumbered by Iraqi soldiers.
Fraser said taking Mosul back will “demonstrate to the world that (ISIS) is losing ground.”
In fact, more than 40 per cent of the territory seized by ISIS has already been taken back since coalition airstrikes began on Aug. 8, 2014.
Canada was contributing to those airstrikes until February, when the Liberals pulled Canada’s CF-18 fighter jets, while at the same time tripling the number of Special Forces trainers on the ground.
At the time, Interim Conservative Party leader Rona Ambrose called the withdrawal from combat a “shameful step backward.”
More than 3.2 million Iraqis have been displaced from their homes due to the ISIS, according to information gathered by the International Organization for Migration.