A Canadian special forces soldier was killed in a friendly fire incident in Iraq, Canada’s defense department said Saturday.
Sgt. Andrew Joseph Doiron is the first fatality for Canadian armed forces in its current mission to train Iraqis and identify targets for airstrikes against the terror group ISIS.
Doiron was killed and three other soldiers were wounded when Iraqi Kurdish forces opened fire on them after the soldiers returned to an observation post behind front lines, the Department of National Defence said in a statement.
The military did not say where the friendly fire incident took place, but said it occurred at around 3:50 p.m. E.T. Friday. The three injured soldiers were not identified.
Canada is due to decide in a few weeks whether to extend the six-month mandate of its military mission there. In addition to about 70 Canadian special forces operating in Iraq's northern Kurdistan region, Canada has provided six jets to take part in U.S.-led bombing missions against Islamic State militants.
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Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered his condolences to Doiron's family, and said Canada should continue to play a role in the campaign against ISIS.
"This tragic incident reminds us of the very real risks that our brave men and women in uniform assume on our behalf to defend the freedoms that we cherish," Harper said in a statement.
"Almost daily we see new evidence of the violent threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant," Harper said, using another name by which ISIS is known. "More than ever, it is imperative that we, along with the more than sixty countries in the coalition, continue the campaign to halt ISIL’s spread and reduce its capacity to carry out terrorist attacks abroad and here in Canada."
A spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council said "the United States extends its deepest condolences" to Doiron's family and to the people of Canada.
"The United States and over 60 coalition partners proudly stand with Canada and recognize the extraordinary contributions and sacrifices of the Canadian Armed Forces and of all the men and women serving the coalition campaign to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL," spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said, referring to another name by which ISIS is known.
— Phil Helsel and Reuters