Canada's next contribution to the fight against ISIS in Iraq will be "several dozen" members of the Armed Forces, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced today - and CBC News has learned that includes special operations forces, CBC News reported.
The contingent of special operations forces will work closely with U.S. forces but remain under full command of Canada's Chief of Defence Staff.
The forces will come from the Special Operations Regiment. No specifics were available on what type of work they'd be doing, but Harper has said the Canadian Forces deployed to Iraq won't be involved in combat.
A spokesman for Harper described the broader Canadian mission as one that provides "strategic and tactical counsel to Iraqi forces before they start tactical operations" against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, also called ISIL.
"This is an advise and assist role, not one in which Canadian Forces will be accompanying Iraqi forces on missions [or] tactical operations. They are there to provide advice that will help the government of Iraq and its security forces be more effective against ISIL," Jason MacDonald said in an email to CBC News.
A release from the government said Canada's contribution is to help prevent any escalation of the humanitarian crisis.
Speaking to reporters at the NATO summit on Friday, Harper condemned the "barbaric acts" of ISIS, the jihadist group behind recent beheadings of American journalists and other mass killings of civilians.
"There can be no doubt that the establishment and expansion of ISIL's terrorist caliphate is not only a threat to millions of innocent people, it has become a grave danger to the security of the region," Harper said. "If left unchecked, this lawless area will become a training ground for international terrorist and will be an even greater threat to the security of Canada and its allies."
CBC News has learned about 100 Canadians will be deployed.
Harper said Friday that U.S. President Barack Obama requested a commitment of military advisers based on the Americans' assessment of the needs on the ground.
The initial deployment will be for a period of up to 30 days, the announcement says, and "will be reassessed after that time." Iraq still needs to give its final consent to Canada's offer.