Canadian military preparing for new role in Syria, extension of Ukraine mission
4 March 2017
Canada’s Liberal government is set to unveil the extension and possible expansion of two of its foreign military deployments. Announcements are expected in coming days on extending the Canadian Armed Forces’ mission in Ukraine, where 200 soldiers are training Ukrainian Army units to fight pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east, and on continuing Canada’s role in the Mideast war and possibly expanding it into Syria.
The latter move would be made in conjunction with an anticipated decision by US President Donald Trump to drastically increase the US military presence in Syria and Iraq.
According to the National Post ’s Matthew Fisher, a veteran correspondent with close connections to the upper echelons of the military and Defence Department, the Canadian military is discussing various options for a mission to Syria. Canada was previously involved directly in the Syria war with CF-18 fighter jets, but these were withdrawn last spring by Trudeau, at the same time as his government extended and expanded Canada’s military intervention in the Middle East.
Eight hundred Canadian troops are currently involved in the war in Iraq and Syria, including a contingent of some 200 Special Forces troops who have provided training and frontline direction to the Kurdish Peshmerga. Some of the Canadian Special Forces are active on the Iraq-Syria border alongside Kurdish forces, attempting to block ISIS fighters from leaving Mosul. Canadian reconnaissance and refueling aircraft also still operate in the region in support of the US-led coalition’s air war.
Fisher suggested in his February 27 piece that one potential option could see Canada being asked to contribute…