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September 17, 2014

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Canada to send military advisers to Iraq

Updated Friday, Sept. 5, 2014 | 6:53 a.m.

TORONTO (AP) — Canada is sending dozens of military advisers to Iraq as part of an effort to bolster Iraqi forces against Islamic militants.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday they will join the U.S. 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 Islamic State. He made the announcement at the NATO meeting in Wales.

Harper, in a statement from the NATO summt in Wales, said the group is a real threat to regional security and to the people of Iraq.

"Left unchecked, ISIL is also a direct threat to Canada and its Allies," Harper said, using one of the acronyms for the group. "The deployment of members of the Canadian Armed Forces is a concrete measure to deter the murderous rampage of ISIL and respond to the humanitarian crisis it has caused."

Canada's initial deployment will be for a period of up to 30 days and will be reassessed after that time.

U.S. 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 contribution is in addition to the two Canadian military cargo planes that are ferrying weapons to Kurdish fighters.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird visited the front lines in Iraq this week. The Harper government said opposition leaders in Canada are being briefed on this decision.

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