Canada’s special forces clash with ISIS in Iraq

This is the first confirmed ground battle between Western troops and ISIS

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Canadian special forces exchanged gunfire with fighters belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group in Iraq in recent days, in the first confirmed ground battles between Western troops and ISIS, a briefing heard Monday.

“My troops had completed a planning session with senior Iraqi leaders several kilometers behind the front lines,” Canadian special forces commander Brig. Gen. Michael Rouleau said.

“When they moved forward to confirm the planning at the front lines in order to visualize what they had discussed over a map, they came under immediate and effective mortar and machine gunfire.”

The general said the Canadians used sniper fire to “neutralize both threats” and there were no Canadian injuries.

He said the clash had taken place in the previous seven days and was “the first time we’ve taken fire and returned fire” in Iraq.

The United States has previously reported having launched an unsuccessful hostage-rescue operation against ISIS in Syria, but Western forces have not officially engaged in ground combat.

Canada has some 600 troops in the region participating in air strikes against ISIS. About 60 of them are special forces training and advising Iraqi troops on the ground but theoretically not in combat.

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