Six months after it was suspended, Canada’s advise and assist mission in northern Iraq remains in a state of limbo, with no immediate end in sight.
The mission was suspended after fighting broke out between Iraqi and Kurdish forces following a controversial Kurdish independence referendum in September. The two groups had been working together to defeat ISIS, but long-held tensions boiled over after an overwhelming majority of Kurds voted to separate from Iraq.
At the time violence broke out, roughly 200 Canadian special forces were stationed in and around Erbil. They had been training Kurdish troops in the fight against ISIS, and providing logistics support for front-line operations as part of Canada’s Operation Impact. Those activities were suspended “temporarily” in late October.
So what’s happened since? And why is the mission still suspended?