US & Canada

Canada exchanges fire with Islamic State in Iraq

Canadian soldiers in memorial service to fallen colleagues Image copyright Reuters

Canadian soldiers have fired on Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq, in what is thought to be the first confirmed ground battle involving Western forces.

Acting in self-defence, the Canadians used sniper fire and did not suffer any casualties, said the general in charge.

It happened as the Canadians had moved closer to the front line after a meeting with Iraqi leaders.

There are 600 Canadian troops helping in airstrikes against IS, which took over large parts of Iraq and Syria.

"My troops had completed a planning session with senior Iraqi leaders several kilometres behind the front lines," Canadian special forces commander Brigadier General Michael Rouleau said on Monday.

"When they moved forward to confirm the planning at the front lines in order to visualise what they had discussed over a map, they came under immediate and effective mortar and machine gunfire."

He said the Canadians used sniper fire and "neutralised" the enemy without taking any casualties.

This was "the first time we've taken fire and returned fire" in Iraq, he added.

Elsewhere on Monday, there was a victory reported for Kurdish fighters battling Islamic State (IS) militants on the Syria-Turkey border.

Local officials said Kurdish units gained control of the hill at Kobane.