Canada extends Iraq, Ukraine military training missions

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Canada’s defense and foreign ministers jointly announced Monday the extensions of military training missions in Iraq and Ukraine.

Both had been slated to wrap up at the end of March, but security concerns persist.

In Iraq, Canada will keep 250 special forces troops advising and training Iraqi security forces, in addition to several attack helicopters, as part of the US-led coalition against ISIS until the end of March 2021.

The number of troops deployed could ramp up to 850, if needed, and they will also help neighboring Jordan and Lebanon build their respective security capabilities, said officials.

Complementing those efforts, Canada last November assumed command of a new NATO mission. It has been contributing air power, medical support and help in training Iraqi forces since 2014.

“We have made significant and lasting progress, but we recognize that more work is needed. Now we must ensure that Daesh can never rebuild and threaten the safety of Iraq,” Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan told a press conference, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

In Ukraine, some 200 Canadian troops will continue to provide arms, military engineering, logistics, military policing, and medical training until the end of March 2022.

Since 2015, Canada has so far trained nearly 11,000 Ukrainian soldiers.

Canada will also host a third Ukraine reform conference in Toronto between the second and fourth of July.

“Ukraine can continue to count on Canada’s unwavering support,” Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said.

“It’s very important to send a strong message to Ukraine, to the people of Ukraine, and to the international community that the invasion of Crimea and the annexation of Crimea are a grave breach of international law,” she added.