OTTAWA – The federal government says the Canadian military will remain in Iraq for at least two more years as part of an international coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says the threat posed by the group, also known as Daesh, ISIL or ISIS, requires Canadian soldiers to remain in the region until at least March 2019.
The government is adding the authority to provide training for new potential partners within the Iraqi security forces, as well as a CC-130J Hercules aircraft for tactical airlift.
The government says it will spend $371.4 million over two years to cover the cost of the extended mission.
Canada has about 200 special forces soldiers operating in northern Iraq supported by a combat hospital, a helicopter detachment, a surveillance plane and an air-to-air refuelling aircraft.
RELATED: How long-range snipers do their job
The Liberal government calls it an “advise and assist” mission to help train local forces, although critics have long insisted Canada is involved in combat.
That debate was sparked anew this month with word that a sniper from Canada’s elite Joint Task Force 2 special forces unit, supporting Iraqi forces, killed an ISIL fighter from 3,540 metres away, a world record.