Canadian Special Forces fire on Isis militants in first ground engagement

There are 600 Canadian troops helping in US-led airstrikes against Isis

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The Independent Online

Canadian Special Forces have fired on Islamic State militants in what is believed to be the first public ground battle in Iraq between Western troops and Isis.

Brigadier General Michael Rouleau said the Canadian soldiers were visiting frontline positions alongside Kurdish peshmerga forces last week when they came under mortar and machine gun fire.

The Canadians retaliated in self-defence using sniper fire which “neutralised” the enemy without taking any casualties, he added.

The general said that while Canadian soldiers are not participating in active combat, they have the right to fire back if fired upon. "This is the first time this has happened since our arrival and our reaction is wholly consistent with the inherent right of self-defense," Mr Rouleau said on Monday.

 

"My troops had completed a planning session with senior Iraqi leaders several kilometres behind the front lines. When they moved forward to confirm the planning at the front lines in order to visualise what they had discussed over a map, they came under immediate and effective mortar and machine gunfire."

Mr Rouleau and other Canadian officials would not be drawn on  where the incident happened, citing operational security.

There are 600 Canadian troops helping in US-led airstrikes against Isis, which have taken over swathes of Iraq and Syria in the last year.

In October the country was hit by two terror attacks by “lone wolves” believed to have been inspired by Isis. In Ottawa, a gunman shot and killed a soldier at Canada’s National War Memorial and then stormed parliament before being gunned down.

It came two days after a man ran over two soldiers in a car park in Quebec, killing one and injuring the other before being shot dead by police.

The man had been under surveillance by Canadian authorities, who feared he had jihadi ambitions and seized his passport when he tried to travel to Turkey.

Canadian authorities have also made three arrests in recent weeks in connection to what is understood to have been an alleged terrorist conspiracy.

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