Special forces advisers already on the ground in northern Iraq: Nicholson

Two senior Conservative cabinet ministers are laying out the government’s case for deploying special forces to northern Iraq, calling the threat of Islamic extremists this generation’s great struggle.

OTTAWA — Two senior Conservative cabinet ministers are laying out the government’s case for deploying special forces to northern Iraq, calling the threat of Islamic extremists this generation’s great struggle.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Defence Minister Rob Nicholson are before a parliamentary committee today to justify the government’s plan to send military advisers into the perilous region.

Some of the advisers are already on the ground, but neither minister was willing to disclose any specifics about timing for security reasons.

Nicholson says the government will not follow up the deployment with “boots on the ground” — meaning a regular army presence — and that special forces soldiers are already moving to assist.

He says the mission does not involve combat and will be subject for review in 30 days.

Nicholson says an assessment on whether the troops have been effective in advising Iraqis security forces and Kurdish fighters will be made in conjunction the allies, principally the Americans.

Both Baird and Nicholson say the mission will be to help contain the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant, or ISIL, and that the U.S. will outline its international strategy on Wednesday.