The federal government has extended its congratulations to Iraqi forces for their victory over Islamic State militants in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi formally declared victory over Islamic State in Iraq’s second largest city on Monday, marking the biggest defeat for the group since it declared a caliphate three years ago.
A 100,000-strong alliance of Iraqi government units, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shi’ite militias launched the offensive to recapture Mosul from the militants in October, with key air and ground support from a U.S.-led coalition.
The fall of Mosul, the largest urban centre controlled by the militants, effectively marks the end of the Iraqi half of the Islamic State caliphate, which also includes territory in Syria. The group still controls territory west and south of the city.
“Canada joins the partners of the Global Coalition Against Daesh in congratulating Iraqis and Iraqi forces on the liberation of Mosul from Daesh control,” Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said in a joint statement, referring to Islamic State by its Arabic acronym.
“We salute Iraqi civilians, soldiers and police, who fought side by side against the threats posed by Daesh. Their sacrifices have made their country safer and the region more secure.”
Members of Iraqi forces make a *V* sign and display an Iraqi flag as they arrive to take part in a victory celebration after defeating the Islamic State militants and retaking the Grand al-Nuri Mosque in the Old City in Mosul, Iraq July 2, 2017. © Erik de Castro
Victory with Canada’s help
The three ministers also thanked “the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces who trained, advised and assisted the Iraqi forces throughout this battle and served selflessly.”
Canada has several dozen special forces soldiers in northern Iraq training and assisting the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters involved in the operation to recapture Mosul.
Ottawa extended its military mission in Iraq by another two years at the end of June.
The mission will now go to March 31, 2019.
The extension includes providing training for new potential partners within the Iraqi security forces and a CC-130J Hercules aircraft for tactical airlift.
Canada will also continue to contribute existing capabilities, including aerial refueling and surveillance aircraft, tactical helicopters, training, advising, and assisting Iraqi security forces, capacity building in Jordan and Lebanon, a field hospital and a contingent of special forces, and intelligence support.
A Canadian sniper team scan the landscape during an Afghan-led operation to arrest suspected Taliban operating in the Panjwayi district of southern Kandahar province, supported by Coalition forces, 28 April 2006. A Canadian special forces sniper in northern Iraq shot an ISIS fighter from a record 3,540 metres, the longest confirmed kill shot in military history. © JOHN D MCHUGH/AFP/Getty Image
The extension includes the authority to deploy up to 850 Canadian troops to the region.
This extension is expected to cost Canada about $371.4 million over two years.
“In its ongoing role in Iraq, Canada will continue to work on the protection of human rights and the protection of minorities,” the ministers said.
“Canada remains committed to helping the Coalition to defeat Daesh. In response to the threat, and to the impacts on the broader region, Canada’s $2-billion multi-year engagement in the Middle East will continue to support Iraqis in rebuilding their communities.”
Canada’s contribution includes humanitarian assistance to help internally displaced persons, as well as support to strengthen and reform Iraq’s security sector and ensure justice and accountability for all Iraqis, the government said.