Canadian special forces helped Kurdish Peshmerga to repel one of the largest Islamic State (Isis) military offensives in months. Kurdish forces were also supported by coalition air strikes in fighting the coordinated surprise attacks near the IS (Daesh, Isil)-controlled city of Mosul in northern Iraq.
The assault took place in Nawaran, Bashiqa, Tel Aswad, Khazr and Zardik, according to Kurdish media, where Canadian special forces have been training local militias. Surprise attacks were launched using suicide bombers, mortars and rockets late on 16 December, said US and Kurdish officials, with IS fighters following up in an attempt to exploit holes torn in Kurdish defences.
Canadian special forces provided supporting fire as Kurdish forces undertook a counter-offensive in the day long battle. "They came under effective fire and our guys were close enough and able to respond with fire on to those Isil positions," said Major General Charles Lamarre in a press conference on 17 December.
There were no Canadian fatalities. However, US officials claimed around 180 IS fighters had been killed in the air strikes. "This was the hardest punch Isil had thrown since this summer, and the Peshmerga defeated them," said Col Steve Warren, a US military spokesman, according to the Washington Post.
Canadian planes also took part in the air strikes, weeks before pulling out of anti-IS operations in Syria and Iraq under new Canadian premier Justin Trudeau's election pledge.