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Canadian Civilians Fighting ISIS (including threats to YPG)

Old Sweat

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George Wallace said:
The Canadian Mounted Rifles were raised in Canada.  The RCD went over to South Africa as Canadian Mounted Rifles and fought successfully to have their name changed to The Royal Canadian Dragoons.  Quite a few of The RCD contingent stayed on in South Africa to fight in the newly formed Transvaal police or with Howard's Scouts and subsequently in the Canadian Scouts after Major "Gat" Howard was killed.
"Gat" Howard was an American who was in Canada to sell Gatling Guns, and joined The RCD as a Lieutenant in charge of machine guns to go to South Africa.
The Canadian Mounted Rifles saga is a little complicated. The second contingent which deployed in 1900 included the 1st and 2nd Battalions, Canadian Mounted Rifles. The 1st Battalion was formed around a cadre from the Royal Canadian Dragoons and, as George pointed out, was renamed RCD during its tour. The 2nd Battalion was based on the NWMP and was commanded by the commissioner. Both units were very effective, with the edge going to the RCD. The 2nd CMR had some organizational issues, including having the CO sent home as medically unfit and the original DCO, Major Sam Steele, being transferred to command the Strathconas before the unit embarked for South Africa.

In 1902 the 2nd Regiment Canadian Mounted Rifles saw action in the closing months of the war, while four more regiments, 3rd through 6th, arrived after the war had ended.

Absolutely nothing to do with the current situation, but I thought I best clarify the Boer War issue.
 
J

jollyjacktar

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Shared under the fair dealings provisions.  For her sake, I hope the reports are not true.
Gill Rosenberg, Canadian citizen, reportedly captured by ISIS in Syria
Canada 'pursuing all appropriate channels' to verify reports, is in touch with local authorities
The Associated Press Posted: Nov 30, 2014 1:33 PM ET|

The federal government is working to confirm reports that Gill Rosenberg, a Canadian citizen, has been captured by Islamist extremists in Syria.
According to the Jerusalem Post, websites "known to be close" to ISIS extremists reported the capture of the Israeli-Canadian woman, who joined Kurdish fighters overseas, on Sunday.

"Canada is pursuing all appropriate channels" to seek further information and is in touch with local authorities, a spokesman for the foreign ministry said on Sunday.  The newspaper said the websites give few details on the alleged capture, only that it occurred after three suicide attacks on sites where Kurdish fighters were holed up.

The reports have not been confirmed by Israeli officials.  "I cannot confirm that and I hope that it isn't true," Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon told an Israeli television channel when asked about the reports.

Rosenberg, 31, told Reuters that she was in Syria in November. A source linked to the YPG, the Kurds' dominant fighting force in northern Syria, said earlier this month that she was their first female foreign recruit and had crossed into Syria to fight Islamic State militants.

A Kurdish military commander heading the unit to which Rosenberg was attached told CBC News on Sunday that the reports were untrue.
"It's a lie. She's OK," said Zagros Cudi.

Clashes between ISIS and Kurdish troops have largely focused on the Syrian city of Kobani, near the Turkish border.  The now-notorious al-Qaeda splinter group is currently in control of large swaths of territory in both Syria and Iraq.  Messages of concern were posted Sunday on a Facebook profile belonging to a Gill Rosenberg. An earlier message asked for advice on joining the Kurdish army.

With files from CBC News and Reuters
© The Associated Press, 2014
The Canadian Press

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/gill-rosenberg-canadian-citizen-reportedly-captured-by-isis-in-syria-1.2855316
 

McG

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A news article yesterday, which was recycling earlier concerns over Canadians joining Kurd fighters, concluded with a speculation of this very scenario coming to pass.
Canadian vets fighting ISIS spark warnings, concern
Desire to battle extremists poses problems

29 Nov 2014
BY LAURA LYNCH, CBC NEWS

They are driven to arrive on the front lines of a war that is not their own for a variety of reasons: frustration with what they call Canada’s inadequate military response, anger prompted by grisly beheading videos and stories of brutal treatment at the hands of ISIS.

For some of the Canadian military veterans who have volunteered to join the Kurdish battle against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, it is also about relieving boredom that has descended since their last battles in Afghanistan.

The volunteers will not be paid, so they are not mercenaries. But their decision to join up does present a host of potential problems — legal and practical — for Canada.

The idea has attracted a less-than-enthusiastic response from the chief of defence staff, Gen. Tom Lawson.

"I do not encourage Canadians to leave our nation and to head to other nations to get involved with the militaries" of those nations, Lawson said.

That echoes warnings made by the British government urging people not to go and join the fight themselves. It said they could face charges.

In a statement, the Home Office said: "Fighting in a foreign war is not automatically an offence, but will depend on the nature of the conflict and the individual’s own activities."

So far, Canada has only issued a general travel warning, advising people not to go to the region for any reason.

But a professor of international law at the University of British Columbia, Michael Byers, said the presence of Canadian veterans fighting with Kurdish groups poses possible complications.

“There are two issues here: whether they can go and the second issue is how they behave when they get there,” said Byers, author of War Law, a book on the laws of war.

Travelling to the region is perfectly legal, said Byers. It gets more problematic when the volunteers go into battle.

Kurdish forces have been accused of violating international law. On more than one occasion, they have presented prisoners to journalists to be interviewed on camera. That is a violation of the Geneva Convention.

​A Dutch news team also reported that Kurdish troops had executed prisoners, also a violation of international law. A Kurdish commander denied the claim.

One Canadian veteran of the Afghanistan war who is preparing to go and fight with Kurdish forces said he would have to report any such violations if he witnessed them. Still, it was not clear to whom he would report.

"You know, you cannot be going around like a cowboy shooting everything," said the veteran who did not want to be identified. "You have got to be responsible, professional and follow the guidelines — the laws of war."

His concern reinforces the problem highlighted by Byers.

“Anyone who goes over there to fight should be aware that they are subject to Canadian and international jurisdiction with regard to the laws of war.”

There is another issue: one of the Kurdish fighting forces, called the Kurdish People’s Protection Units or YPG, is linked to the Turkish-based Kurdistan Workers Party, known as the PKK.

It is considered a terrorist organization by the Canadian government, raising the possibility that Canadians could end up violating anti-terrorism laws.

Lawson had one more warning for Canadians who seem to eager to sign up.  “Be very careful. You are swimming with the sharks and there is no safety net.”

There are additional concerns about how the volunteers' presence could complicate Canada’s official military operations. If a Canadian gets into trouble, is captured or injured, would Canada be obligated to stage a rescue mission?
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/canadian-vets-fighting-isis-spark-warnings-concern-1.2849475
 

OldSolduer

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Sheep Dog AT said:
She's unfortunately dead or soon to be.

And that's sad. In my vengeful mind, these animals need to be hunted down and.......

 

a_majoor

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I think the motivations and organization of this "1rst North American Expeditionary Force" is rather different from the Special Service Force of the Boer War or the "Mac-Paps" from the Spanish Civil War, so drawing analogies are going to be difficult, if not downright inaccurate.

The primary issue here is these are individuals who are motivated to go by personal reasons, and who are essentially joining as individual foreign mercenaries augmenting a tribal force. Perhaps the most realistic historical analogy might be adventurers going to Ethiopia in the 1930's to fight the Italians (but even that isn't quite right, since there was an "Imperial" government of sorts in charge of Ethiopia at the time).

I suspect the people going over to assist will be horribly disillusioned by the end of their ordeal, as they will not have much in the way of manpower and resources to add to the cause, and I imagine many bureaucratic obstacles will spring up in their path both going over and returning home. If the "Expeditionary Force" could muster battalion sized groups of volunteers (500+) with adequate logistical support (including medical services), then they probably *could* make a noticeable difference, but this also presupposes that the Kurds would be open to what amounts to a foreign military force operating on their territory.

Still, their hearts are in the right place, and for what it is worth I wish them well.
 
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jollyjacktar

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Now there's unconfirmed reports of FB posts from Gill Rosenburg saying she's safe and well.  I do hope so.

Gill Rosenberg, Canadian reportedly seized by ISIS, appears to be safe
'Guys, I'm totally safe and secure,' Facebook update says

CBC News Posted: Nov 30, 2014 1:33 PM ET| Last Updated: Dec 01, 2014 5:40 PM ET

A Facebook user claiming to be Canadian citizen Gill Rosenberg, who was allegedly seized by Islamist extremists, has posted an update saying she is safe and to ignore reports that she was captured.​  "Guys, I'm totally safe and secure. I don't have internet access or any communication devices with me for my safety and security," says the status update.  CBC News has not yet been able to independently confirm that Rosenberg did post the updated message. But sources tell CBC News that Rosenberg also communicated in private today to a friend and that the update to her Facebook account appears to be authentic.

The Facebook update says that she can't reply regularly and she only happened to have a chance to log in and see the news stories about her.
"Ignore the reports I've been captured," the post says.  Another Facebook post followed, saying that: "On behalf of Gill Rosenberg, please be advised that she is safe and sound. DO NOT listen to the reports for the past few days about kidnapping. I will update you again when I hear from her. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers!! Thank you."

Rosenberg, 31, told Reuters in November that she was in Syria. A source linked to the YPG, the Kurds' dominant fighting force in northern Syria, said earlier this month that she was their first female foreign recruit and had crossed into Syria to fight Islamic State militants.  According to the Jerusalem Post, websites "known to be close" to ISIS extremists reported on Sunday the capture of the Israeli-Canadian woman, who joined Kurdish fighters overseas.  But a Kurdish military commander heading the unit to which Rosenberg was attached told CBC News on Sunday that the reports were untrue."It's a lie. She's OK," said Zagros Cudi.

Government working to clear up reports

Earlier, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said the federal government was working to determine the veracity of conflicting reports about  Rosenberg.  "Our teams are obviously working to try to tackle the competing versions of what happened," Baird told CBC's Carole MacNeil. "But it is obviously a deep concern for us."


Asked whether he would take the word of the Kurdish commander, Baird said "obviously we have great regard for the Kurdish Peshmerga. We have competing claims. We haven't been able to validate those claims."  CBC's Middle East correspondent Sasa Petricic tweeted Monday morning that according to someone described as her friend, Rosenberg is "safe" and not being held by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria extremists. Official Israeli and Canadian sources, however, haven't been able to confirm the report.

"Overnight, we've been seeing a number of messages from her friends posted on her Facebook page saying, no, they heard she is safe, everything is fine, but she can't communicate, because she is in an isolated area," Petricic reported.  The Jerusalem Post said the websites give few details on the alleged capture, only that it occurred after three suicide attacks on sites where Kurdish fighters were holed up.

"She's originally from White Rock, British Columbia," CBC's Briar Stewart reported from London today. "She went to the British Columbia Institute of Technology, where she studied aviation.

Immigrated to Israel


"In 2006 she immigrated to Israel, where she later worked as a pilot with the army search and rescue unit.  "In 2009 … she was extradited to the United States, where she served time in prison for her part of an international phone scam. Now, after serving her time — it was just more than three years — she then went back to the Middle East, and obviously this fall she travelled … to Iraq to train with Kurdish fighters."

Clashes between ISIS and Kurdish troops have largely focused on the Syrian city of Kobani, near the Turkish border.  The notorious al-Qaeda splinter group is currently in control of large swaths of territory in both Syria and Iraq.

With files from The Associated Press and Reuters

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/gill-rosenberg-canadian-reportedly-seized-by-isis-appears-to-be-safe-1.2855316
 

a_majoor

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It occurs to me that this activity is even more futile than I had initially thought. For whatever reason it didn't occur to me until now that while the newspaper reports something like a half dozen known Canadians are preparing to go to fight ISIS, CSIS and the RCMP is actively monitoring over 80 Canadians who want to go over and fight *with* ISIS.

Even giving a wide margin for people who were not identified by reporters, there is still a huge disparity in numbers between those who support barbarism and those who wish to oppose it.
 

Furniture

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Thucydides said:
It occurs to me that this activity is even more futile than I had initially thought. For whatever reason it didn't occur to me until now that while the newspaper reports something like a half dozen known Canadians are preparing to go to fight ISIS, CSIS and the RCMP is actively monitoring over 80 Canadians who want to go over and fight *with* ISIS.

Even giving a wide margin for people who were not identified by reporters, there is still a huge disparity in numbers between those who support barbarism and those who wish to oppose it.

I'd say there are tens of thousands of people in Canada who oppose barbarism quite actively... Most just choose to do so in uniform.
 

a_majoor

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WeatherdoG said:
I'd say there are tens of thousands of people in Canada who oppose barbarism quite actively... Most just choose to do so in uniform.

Quite. I should be clear I was talking about people who are taking steps on their own, rather than the institutions who stand between the public and barbarians.
 

PMedMoe

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jollyjacktar said:
Now there's unconfirmed reports of FB posts from Gill Rosenburg saying she's safe and well.  I do hope so.

And now there's reports that the reported abdustion was false:

Report of abduction of Israeli-Canadian soldier may be false: government source


The federal government is now working on the assumption that the reported abduction of an Israeli-Canadian woman by Islamic militants may in fact be false, The Canadian Press has learned.

A government official who was not authorized to speak on the record about the matter offered that assessment Monday as two federal cabinet ministers urged Canadians to avoid following in the footsteps of Gill Rosenberg, who joined Kurdish fighters overseas.

The government has not been able to confirm that Rosenberg is free and OK, but several unconfirmed social media reports suggest that is the case.

More at link
 

The Bread Guy

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PMedMoe said:
.... A government official who was not authorized to speak on the record about the matter offered that assessment Monday as two federal cabinet ministers urged Canadians to avoid following in the footsteps of Gill Rosenberg, who joined Kurdish fighters overseas ....
Quite the message migration from this ....
.... Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney told CBC News that the government “would not oppose a citizen who is willing to engage in a battle for liberty and helping the victims of barbaric crimes,” alluding to several well-documented massacres of civilians by ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria ....
.... to this:
.... "The best way to fight terrorism is to support our national law enforcement or national security agencies," said Blaney.  "It is important to follow the consular advice and avoid engaging in combat activity abroad without the scope of our national Canadian Armed Forces or national security agency." ....

Meanwhile, from one of the participants ....
In his first battle serving on the front lines against ISIS, Dillon Hillier engaged the enemy in a firefight, helped liberate a town, and may have saved a fellow fighter’s life. It was, he said after, the greatest day of his life.

Mr. Hillier, formerly a corporal in the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, is a volunteer with the 1st North American Expeditionary Force, a private organization that is providing aid to anyone who wants to help the Kurds in their fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham.

In the Nov. 26 battle, shortly after he arrived in in northern Iraq, Mr. Hillier had one main objective when he reached the town of Tel al-Ward: To take the hill.

Inside the bunkers at the top of the hill were ISIS militants, said Mr. Hillier, who was with the Kurdish Peshmerga.

Describing his role in the fight, Mr. Hillier said, “I manoeuvred the ground, and engaged the enemy as I was trained to do.” ....
 

Jarnhamar

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I really want to like these guys but I'm getting weird feelings about them.

The name bugs me.  I'm not sure 3 (?) citizens heading over to Iraq can be considered an expeditionary force. These guys aren't a force at all, they're a middle man trying to put people in touch with contacts over there (which don't get me wrong, I think is awesome and fully applaud and support).

Their facebook posts feel like they're trying to act the part just a bit too hard.  Having an open facebook page for people to debate on is all kinds of bad news and in my opinion hurts their legitimacy.
 

BorisK

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Might not be new to some, but I saw this on my facebook feed just now.  I am usually not a fan of Vice's reporting, but this seems to stick to the facts for the most part. 

Reproduced under the fair dealings provisions of the copyright act :

https://news.vice.com/article/ex-canadian-soldier-fires-assault-rifle-at-islamic-state-in-video?utm_source=vicenewsfb
 

McG

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I have read that "1 NAEF" has sent two more fighter this weekend.  I wonder if this Cpl Hillier will become seen as most valuable as a recruiting tool, and therefore kept in safe jobs more than he might have hoped.

Canadian veteran who joined fight against ISIS struggled to adapt to civilian life after tour in Afghanistan
Campbell MacDiarmid
National Post
07 Dec 2014

IRAQI KURDISTAN — A sign on the café’s glass door says 18+, although no alcohol is served. Inside groups of men huddle around tables and the smoke hangs low, despite the high ceilings.

In a corner, Dillon Hillier sits smoking a shisha with two Kurds, currently absorbed in their phones. The water pipe bubbles and the coals glow as he draws on the hose. He sits back, exhaling a cloud of apple-flavoured tobacco smoke before passing the pipe. “So you got questions?” he asks.

The 26-year-old Canadian veteran travelled to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq last month to join the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS). Now he has been pulled back to rest after his first engagement with the enemy, a battle the spokesman for the Peshmerga — the Kurdish fighters taking on ISIS — describes as important and strategic.

His close-cropped hair and the tattoo on his left forearm — the acronym for his former unit, the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry — show his pedigree as a soldier. He speaks with conviction and candour, but he isn’t afraid to pause while considering a question.

...

The former corporal says his five years in the Canadian army, which included a short tour in Afghanistan around Kabul in 2013, disillusioned him. Afghanistan wasn’t a worthwhile cause — an occupation, a civil war, bad people on both sides. Not a lot of support from the local people.

A lot of veterans feel the same, he says.

Back home, working in Alberta, he struggled to adapt to civilian life. A job in construction bored him. “I was tired of just chasing dollars.”

When Kurdistan came up on his radar in June, it seemed like a cause he could get behind — with much less of the moral ambiguity inherent in many 21st-century conflicts. A clear case of good versus evil, he says.

He’s read For Whom The Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway’s tale of international volunteers in the Spanish Civil War. This seemed like a similarly worthy cause.

And the Kurds were ready to accept his help.

...
Given that he has made himself the Canadian face of civilian foreign fighters, it would not help their recruiting here if he died before a critical mass of Canadians had the opportunity to join him.
 

Altair

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The best way to fight Daesh is to join the Canadian forces? Air force,  yes,  maybe.

But what good is joining the army going to do? Firing rounds in wainwright and petawawa doesn't look that appealing for those wanting to help the Kurds or those wanting to get at Daesh. I liked Lawson,  but then he had to open his mouth and remove all doubt on that one.
 
J

jollyjacktar

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He is just towing the party line , did you honestly expect him to publicly say anything different?
 

The Bread Guy

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MCG said:
I have read that "1 NAEF" has sent two more fighter this weekend ....
More on that here:
Three more Canadian volunteers were to leave for the Middle East this weekend to participate in the fight against ISIS, according to two sources familiar with their plans.

According to one of the sources, only one of the men is ex-military. They met in Toronto on Friday and intended to depart over the weekend for the region controlled by Kurdish forces.

The development comes as the federal government is struggling to discourage Canadians from fighting alongside Kurdish armed groups battling the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham ....

MCG said:
Given that he has made himself the Canadian face of civilian foreign fighters, it would not help their recruiting here if he died before a critical mass of Canadians had the opportunity to join him.
Or if he gets wounded, and they have to fundraise (crowdsourcing, anyone?) to bring him back to decent medical care.
 
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