Canadian special-forces team hunts down and dismantles chemical weapons in Iraq
Canadian special forces have played a central role in hunting down, detecting and dismantling stockpiles of chemical weapons used by Islamic State militants in Iraq, according to sources with knowledge of the top-secret operations.
Some of these highly trained soldiers have advanced scientific degrees and used their specialized skills to decontaminate Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Iraqi soldiers affected by mustard gas.
Canada’s special forces are made up of the elite JTF-2 counterterrorism force, regular commandos, a special helicopter detachment and the Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit (CJIRU), which is responsible for responding to nuclear, chemical and biological attacks.
Soldiers with the CJIRU are among about 200 Canadian special forces deployed in northern Iraq focused mainly on training Kurdish fighters. Some of them recently helped in the battle to reclaim the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State, including a small number of CJIRU soldiers whose job was to search for and destroy chemical weapons.
Mosul was at the centre of the Islamic State’s chemical-weapons production, mostly small batches of low-quality chlorine and sulphur mustard agents, but the hardline Sunni militants also had control over radioactive material at the city’s university.
Sources, with knowledge of the activities of Canada’s special forces in Iraq, but who were not authorized to speak on the record, have told The Globe and Mail that CJIRU soldiers detected and dismantled weaponized chemical components and hazardous material in Mosul between March and August of this year.
“It is a very, very highly capable organization that deals with very, very ugly situations,” said retired lieutenant-colonel Steve Day, the former head of Canada’s secret JTF-2 special-operations unit who worked alongside CJIRU soldiers.
“They have got both tactical training, so they can operate alongside special forces, but they also have technical training in their ability to handle biological, chemical or radioactive agents.”
For security reasons, the sources …read more
From:: CBRNe (CBRN)