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Canada sending top team to Iraq

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Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during a news conference on the second and final day of the NATO summit at the Celtic Manor resort, Wales. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during a news conference on the second and final day of the NATO summit at the Celtic Manor resort, Wales. REUTERS/Yves Herman

REUTERS

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during a news conference on the second and final day of the NATO summit at the Celtic Manor resort, Wales. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Canada is sending between 50 to 100 military advisers to Iraq as part of an effort to bolster Iraqi forces against Islamic militants after a request from US President Barack Obama.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said they would join the US in advising Iraq on how to enable security forces in the northern part of the country to be more effective against the threat posed by the group that calls itself the Isil.

Mr Harper, speaking at the NATO summit in Wales, said Canada and its allies were increasing concerned about the barbaric acts of the Islamic militants. He said Canada would look at further steps to respond to the threat as allies come up with a plan.

"If left unchecked this lawless area will become a training ground for international terrorists and an even greater threat to Canada and its allies," Mr Harper said.

Mr Harper said the mission was not without risk, but would not be a combat mission. Canada's initial deployment will be for a period of up to 30 days and will be reassessed after that time. Mr Harper said Mr Obama made the request.

US Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes tweeted the "US welcomes PM Harper's announcement that Canada will send military advisers to Iraq as part of our effort to support Kurdish forces."

Canada's former Liberal government refused a request to send troops when the US invaded Iraq in 2003, straining ties between the two neighbours. Canada then stepped up its mission in Afghanistan as part of an effort to repair ties with Washington.

A senior government official said the mission will include 50 to 100 military advisers from a special operations military unit. The official was not authorized to speak publicly about the issue and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Canada's contribution is in addition to the two Canadian military cargo planes that are ferrying weapons to Kurdish fighters.

Irish Independent