Canadian Special Forces Are First Western Troops in Ground Battle with ISIL

Canadian soldiers returning fire in Afghanistan, Nov. 17, 2007Canadian special forces exchanged gunfire with Islamic State fighters in Iraq in recent days, in the first confirmed ground battle between Western troops and IS, a senior officer said Monday.

The Canadians came under mortar and machine gun fire while training Iraqi troops near front lines and shot back in what Canadian special forces commander Brigadier General Michael Rouleau described as self-defense, killing the IS fighters.

Rouleau said the melee had taken place in the previous seven days and was “the first time we’ve taken fire and returned fire” in Iraq, where the extremists have overrun large areas.

“My troops had completed a planning session with senior Iraqi leaders several kilometers behind the front lines,” Rouleau told a regular media briefing on the conflict.

“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 gun fire.”

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

Canada sent some 600 air crew and other military personnel — as well as six fighter jets and other military aircraft — to the region in November to participate in the air strikes against the Islamic State.

The Canadian deployment is due to end in April, unless parliament votes to extend the mission.

There are also 69 Canadian special forces training and advising Iraqi troops on the ground, but theoretically not in combat.

Image: Canadian soldiers returning fire in Afghanistan, Nov. 17, 2007 (photo: Cplc Robert Bottrill/Canadian Armed Forces)