• Reuters


Several former Canadian soldiers plan to join Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State militants in the coming weeks, with at least one already in Iraq, Canadian media reported Friday, bolstering the ranks of foreigners fighting alongside the Kurds.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. 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.”

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

Canadian foreign affairs spokesman Francois Lasalle said, “We are aware of Canadian citizens having joined Kurdish forces.” But he said the government advises against all travel to Syria and Iraq.

Canadian fighter jets joined U.S.-led airstrikes 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.

Ian Bradbury, 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, Dillon Hillier, who flew to northeastern Iraq a week ago.

It quoted Hillier 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 II.”

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