Canadian vets plan to join Kurdish fight against Islamic State

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 21, 2014 3:11 PM

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Several former Canadian soldiers plan to join Kurds to combat Islamic State militants in coming weeks, Canadian media reported on Friday, bolstering the ranks of foreigners fighting alongside the group.

Earlier this month, a Canadian-born immigrant to Israel became the first foreign woman to join Kurds battling Islamic State in Syria.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation said a half-dozen former armed forces personnel were enlisting, citing unnamed sources. Meanwhile, the National Post newspaper said veterans had formed a group called the First North American Expeditionary Force to help link would-be fighters with Peshmerga units and to provide financial help.

"I got put on this Earth to do one thing," CBC quoted one of the men, who served in Afghanistan, as saying on condition of anonymity. "I got this fire in me. I still want to soldier on."

Canada's defense department declined to comment on the reports.

Canadian fighter jets joined U.S.-led air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq last month. The decision to join the campaign was followed by fatal attacks on two soldiers in Canada in October that police said were carried out independently by radical recent converts to Islam.

An organizer at the First North American Expeditionary Force was quoted in the National Post as saying the group provided logistical support to one 26-year-old veteran who flew to northeastern Iraq last week.

"As long as nobody's being trained here, as long as we're not forming any militia, it's all in bounds," Ian Bradbury was quoted as saying.

"I look at what I'm doing as no different than when thousands of Canadians went to fight the Germans in World War Two."

(Reporting by Randall Palmer and Leah Schnurr; Editing by Richard Chang)