By Agence France-Presse
Canada’s supposed non-combat role in Iraq is being questioned after a special forces sniper took out an IS fighter in Iraq.
But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday would have none of it, saying Canadian troops training Kurdish fighters have orders to also fight in defense of coalition soldiers.
“I can tell you that defending our allies in the coalition has been an integral part of our mission,” Trudeau told a press conference marking the end of the parliamentary session.
“This is completely in keeping with our responsibilities as Canadians, as members of the coalition in northern Iraq and it will continue to be that way,” he said.
The military confirmed to AFP that a member of its Joint Task Force 2 unit deployed in Iraq had “successfully hit a target from 3,540 meters,” or 2.2 miles.
According to a media report, the soldier was positioned on a high-rise rooftop last month and, using a McMillan TAC-50 rifle, killed an IS fighter who was attacking Iraqi soldiers.
Since then, opposition parties have used the incident to challenge the government’s claim that JTF2’s mission is simply to “advise and assist” Kurdish militia, and accused Trudeau of waging a secret war without parliament’s nod.
“It seriously calls into question your government’s claim that Canadian forces are not involved in direct combat in Iraq,” New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair said in a letter to the prime minister.
Trudeau’s Liberals came to power in 2015 promising to end Canadian airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Iraq.
At the same time, preferring to support the Iraqis in their fight, over direct military intervention, the government tripled the number of Canadian military trainers on the ground to more than 200.