Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives in Riga, Latvia on Monday, July 9, 2018. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Trudeau announces new Canada led training mission in Iraq

PM Justin Trudeau said the mission will begin in the fall of 2018 in Baghdad and the surrounding vicinity.

The Canadian military will command a new NATO training and capacity building mission in Iraq for its first year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in Brussels on Wednesday as part of the annual alliance summit.

Trudeau said the mission, to begin in the fall of 2018 in Baghdad and the surrounding vicinity, will include the deployment of as many as 250 Canadian Armed Forces personnel and up to four Griffon helicopters to support NATO activities.

“This is something that we believe in deeply,” Trudeau said of the new Iraq mission.

“This is a moment for us to stand together and understand that the perspective that we fight for and stand for is essential today and tomorrow.”

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office called the mission a “natural next step for Canada” that moves beyond the successful fight against Islamic State militants to “helping build institutional capacity in Iraq and lay the groundwork for longer-term peace and stability.

Canada’s leadership of this new NATO training mission will complement existing efforts in the global coalition against ISIL.

Under Operation IMPACT, the Canadian army is already providing training and assistance to the Iraqi security forces and helping regional forces build their capacity.

Related: Trudeau, Trump to come face-to-face at NATO for first time since G7 in Quebec

Related: Canada will not double its defence budget despite calls from Trump: Trudeau

Canada also contributes mobile training teams to NATO’s counter-improvised explosive device capacity building efforts for Iraq. This initiative builds on that effort.

“Canada knows that a peaceful world, a more democratic world is good for Canada, is good for all of us and that’s why we believe so deeply in NATO, that’s why we stand so strongly with the trans-Atlantic alliance, and we’ll continue to step up everywhere we can,” said Trudeau.

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

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