Canada keeps hospital open in Erbil

 31 Oct 2017 - 10:41

Canada keeps hospital open in Erbil

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TRENTON, Canada: The Canadian government said Monday it would keep open its hospital in northern Iraq after the military halted its training of Iraqi and Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) forces because of fighting between the two groups.

The hospital in Erbil will be downsized to a staff of 35 from 50 but would function until at least next April.

“We still need that capacity,” hospital commander Lt. Col. Dave Coker told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “We have to be ready to conduct that life-saving surgery for whatever comes through the door.”

But he clashes have not interfered with the hospital.

“We’re in very secure coalition infrastructure,” Coker said.

As well, a Canadian helicopter detachment and intelligence officers will continue to function in Iraq.

The Canadian military announced Friday it would suspend the training because its 200 commandos do not want to become involved in the fighting between the KRG troops under the Iraqi government in Baghdad.

Tension has steadily mounted between Baghdad and Erbil since Sept. 25, when areas controlled by the KRG, and in several others, including oil-rich Kirkuk, voted overwhelmingly for independence from Baghdad.

The controversial vote that many have criticized as unconstitutional threatens to distract from Iraq’s ongoing fight against terrorism and further destabilize the region.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said last week the referendum “must be canceled.”

If the fighting ends -- talks between the two are underway -- the Canadian commandos will resume their training of the troops, according to Col. Jay Janzen, director of military strategic communications.