Canada’s new approach to addressing the ongoing crises in Iraq and Syria and impacts on the region: promoting security and stability

Ottawa, Ontario
8 February 2016

On February 8, 2016, the Government of Canada announced a new approach to respond to the ongoing crises in Iraq and Syria and their impact in the region.

One of the key objectives of this strategy is promoting security and stability. Canada will undertake the following activities, in close co-ordination with key Coalition allies and local and international partners to accomplish this goal:

Military efforts

Military efforts will continue to play an important role in setting the conditions necessary to deal with the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Subject to further discussions with the Government of Iraq and Coalition partners, Canada will extend its military engagement in Iraq and Syria under Operation IMPACT until March 31, 2017, and make the following contributions under its new approach:

  • increase its complement of military personnel to approximately 830, up from approximately 650.
  • Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel will be deployed at various Global Coalition headquarters to further support Coalition members and Iraqi security forces in the planning and execution of military operations. More specifically they will provide high-demand expertise in the areas of operational planning, targeting and intelligence.
  • triple the size of its train, advise and assist mission to help Iraqi security forces plan and conduct military operations against ISIL. As part of this mission we will also:
    • deploy CAF medical personnel to provide training to Iraqi security forces in the conduct of casualty management in a battlefield context as well as to provide medical support to CAF personnel and our partners;
    • provide equipment such as small arms, ammunition and optics to assist in the training of Iraqi security forces. The provision of such equipment will be carried out in accordance with Canadian and international law, including the Law of Armed Conflict; and,
    • examine ways to enhance in-theatre tactical transport.
  • Air Contribution: maintain the current air contribution of one CC-150 Polaris aerial refuelling aircraft and up to two CP-140 Aurora aerial surveillance aircraft, along with associated aircrew and support personnel. These aircraft will continue to conduct operations throughout the Coalition theatre. As directed, the CAF will cease air strike operations in Iraq and Syria no later than February 22, 2016. As a result, the six CF-188 Hornets, along with associated aircrew and support personnel will be redeployed in a phased approach.
  • Regional Capacity Building: subject to further discussion with regional partners, Canada will enhance its capacity-building efforts with security forces in Jordan and Lebanon to help prevent the spread of violent extremism. Canada is also offering to provide the Government of Iraq with a team of strategic advisors to the Ministries of Defence and the Interior.

Canada will allocate approximately $264 million towards these efforts with an additional $41.9 million allocated for redeployment of personnel and equipment in 2017. Recognizing the complexity of the challenging security environment, we will assess at a later date whether the mission should be extended beyond March 31, 2017.

Non-military security efforts

Other Government of Canada security initiatives include:

  • $145 million over the next three years towards counter-terrorism; stabilization and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) security programming.
  • continuing efforts to: support security forces and law enforcement capacity building and training; stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters; cut off ISIL’s access to financing and funding; counter ISIL’s propaganda; and engage in other security and stabilization efforts, such as mitigating the risks posed by explosive remnants of war and providing assistance to enable the return of internally-displaced persons to newly liberated areas. 

These initiatives will also be undertaken in close consultation and collaboration with local and international partners, including Coalition partners and allies.