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Canadian troops will leave Iraq if government orders it: Sajjan

OTTAWA — Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Canada wants to resume its military training efforts in Iraq, but will respect any decision by Baghdad to expel foreign troops.

Sajjan spoke following a visit to Kuwait and Jordan, where he met with some of the hundreds of Canadian troops who have been participating in Canada’s five-year fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

That fight has largely focused over the past couple of years on training Iraqi military forces on the basics of soldiering so they can root out ISIL cells and resist any resurgence of the extremist group.

However, the future of Canada’s mission in Iraq has been called into doubt since the country’s parliament, angry over the U.S.’s killing one of Iran’s top generals at the Baghdad airport, passed a non-binding motion earlier this month calling for the expulsion of all foreign troops.

Sajjan says that although discussions between western allies and the Iraqi government are still underway, Canada and its allies are in the country at Baghdad’s request and will honour any decision to have them leave.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, meanwhile, is reportedly drawing up plans to cut millions of dollars in military aid earmarked for Iraq should Baghdad make such a request.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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