Monday March 09, 2015

'Friendly fire' casualty fuels questions on Canada's mission in Iraq

Pallbearers from the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR) carry the casket of their fallen comrade, Sgt. Andrew Joseph Doiron, during the ramp ceremony at the Erbil International Airport in Iraq on Sunday.

Pallbearers from the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR) carry the casket of their fallen comrade, Sgt. Andrew Joseph Doiron, during the ramp ceremony at the Erbil International Airport in Iraq on Sunday. (DND)

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Sgt. Andrew Joseph Doiron

Sgt. Andrew Joseph Doiron, based at Garrison Petawawa, was killed in a friendly fire incident in Iraq on March 6, 2015, according to the Canadian Forces.

The news broke, Saturday, of the first Canadian Forces death in the coalition battle against ISIS in Iraq. He was thirty-one-year-old Sergeant Andrew Joseph Doiron of Moncton, New Brunswick.

'He was always very true to himself no matter what the circumstances were.' - Stephanie Learmout, high school friend of Sergeant Doiron

Doiron was part of a special forces team, stationed in northern Iraq, to help train Kurdish and Iraqi forces.Canadian officials say Sergeant Doiron's death was caused by what they call friendly fire from Canada's Kurdish Peshmerga allies.

The commander of the Peshmerga forces told Kurdish media that his fighters thought the Canadians were ISIS militants when they approached a check point, because they spoke in Arabic when they were asked to identify themselves.

But Canada's Defence Minister Jason Kenney says that's not what Canadian Forces officials told him.

Jason Kenney reacts to Canadian soldier killed in Iraq9:37

"Our understanding is that theyd' been given permission to proceed towards the operation post around 11 o'clock, while it was dark at night, on Friday. One of the Kurdish militia men began firing at the four Canadian soldiers and then others joined." - Defence Minister Jason Kenney

The Official Opposition says the incident raises questions about the nature of Canada's mission in Iraq.

Paul Dewar is the NDP's foreign affairs critic in Ottawa. 

For their thoughts on the death of Sgt. Andrew Doiron and what, if anything, it tells us about Canada's mission in Iraq, we were joined by two people.

Ferry de Kerckhove is the Executive Vice President of the Conference of Defence Associations Institute and he joined us from Ottawa.

Patrick Graham is a freelance writer who covered the war in Iraq and its aftermath and continues to travel into the region. We reached him just outside Toronto. 


This segment was produced by The Current's Idella Sturino and Marc Apollonio. 


RELATED LINKS

♦ Andrew Doiron's death in Iraq sparks dispute over what happened - CBC News

♦ Paul Calandra apologizes for non-answers as sources pin blame on PMO - CBC News

♦ NDP MP Jack Harris: Government Misled Canadians 'All Along The Way' About Iraq Mission - Huffington Post