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Canada extends leadership of NATO training mission in Iraq to November 2020

Minister of National Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan responds during Question Period in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 28, 2019. Canada will lead a NATO training mission in Iraq until November 2020 after the federal government approved an extension to the operation. New of the extension comes as Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and counterparts from other NATO countries are in Brussels to discuss the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA — Canada will lead a NATO training mission in Iraq until November 2020 after the federal government approved an extension to the operation.

News of the extension comes as Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and his counterparts from other NATO countries are in Brussels to discuss the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Canada has 850 military personnel in Iraq and the surrounding region involved in that effort against ISIL, including 250 who are training the Iraqi military as part of the NATO mission.

The extremist group remains a threat despite having lost of all its territory in Iraq and Syria, where it continues to conduct suicide bombings and other insurgent attacks.

Canada has been leading the NATO training mission since last July and was set to hand over the reins to another country at the end of this month, but will now lead until November 2020.

The extension is only the latest involving the Canadian military in Iraq after the federal government promised to keep the other 600 troops in the war-ravaged country until March 2021.

The Canadian Press