Canada wants Kurdish promises before sending weapons, ammunition to Iraq

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Source: Alex Guibord / CC BY 2.0

OTTAWA, Ontario - The Liberal government's plan to provide weapons to Kurdish forces in Iraq is being held up amid fears the equipment could be used for purposes other than fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The government said in February that Canada would provide small arms, ammunition and optical sights to the Kurds as part of a revamped mission to fight ISIL militants.

Nearly eight months later, however, none of that so-called lethal aid has been delivered.

National Defence spokeswoman Ashley Lemire says the government still intends to provide weapons to the Kurds.

But she says Canada needs to get "Iraqi diplomatic assurances" that the equipment will be used in accordance with international laws.

Lemire's comments come amid growing fears that violence could erupt between Kurds and non-Kurds once ISIL is routed from Iraq.

Human rights groups have also accused the Kurds of committing war crimes against non-Kurds, a charge Kurdish officials fiercely deny.