NEWS

Canadian military veterans plan to enlist with Kurds battling ISIS

11/21/2014 12:24 EST | Updated 01/21/2015 05:59 EST
A number of Canadian military veterans say they'll be enlisting with the growing ranks of foreign fighters who have joined the Kurdish battle against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

CBC News has learned of a half-dozen former Canadian Forces personnel planning to join Kurdish troops in the following weeks and months, with some citing what they see as an insufficient military response by Canada to the ISIS onslaught.

The earliest any of them said they would head to Iraq, where the Kurdish effort is centred, is next month.

"I got put on this Earth to do one thing," said a one of the men, who served in Afghanistan and who spoke with CBC on condition he not be identified. "I got this fire in me. I still want to soldier on."

At least three other Canadians are known or reported to have already joined the Kurdish forces:

- A Kurdish commander told CBC News a Canadian military veteran had recently arrived and is currently on the front lines.

- Canadian-Israeli Gill Rosenberg became the first foreign woman to join the Kurds when she travelled to Iraq to train; she told Israeli radio last week she would go into combat in next-door Syria.

- The National Post reported Friday that Dillon Hillier, a construction worker in Alberta and veteran of the Afghanistan mission, flew to northeastern Iraq last weekend.  

Department of National Defence officials meeting at a security summit in Halifax had no comment on the matter when asked by CBC News.

Kurds in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq have been battling militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria group, also known as ISIL, for months, backed by the United States and the European Union.

Kurdish Peshmerga forces have also more recently entered neighbouring Syria to counter ISIS there, particularly around Kobani.

Canada began deploying fighter jets and support personnel to the Mideast last month as part of an aerial bombardment mission against ISIS.

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