Kurdish friendly fire claims the life of Canadian Special Ops soldier



Sgt. Doiron was killed by peshmerga fighters after mistaking his unit for Islamic State militants

On March 6, a unit of Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga misidentified members of the Canadian Special Operations Regiment for being Islamic State fighters and fired upon them. Three were wounded and one died. The soldiers were returning to an observation post from behind the front lines when the friendly fire incident occurred.

The Department of Defence has confirmed that the soldier slain was Sgt. Andrew Joseph Doiron. The Special Operations Regiment is based at Garrison Petawawa. The three who were wounded are currently receiving medical attention and are in stable condition.

“It is with profound sadness that I have learned of the death of Sergeant Andrew Joseph Doiron in Iraq today. We have lost another invaluable member of our family,” said General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff.

“A soldier and a warrior, Sergeant Doiron was a consummate professional appreciated by all. His sacrifice will not be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. I am grateful for his service and dedication. He will be missed.”

Sgt. Doiron was one of 69 members of the Canadian Special Forces currently stationed in northern Iraq providing strategic and tactical training to Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

Canada has deployed nearly 600 military personnel to Iraq, including soldiers, aircrew and other support personnel, as part of a multinational coalition known as the Middle East Stabilization Force (MESF) against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The day following Sgt. Doiron’s death, Minister of National Defence Jason Kenney issued a statement in which he said “I extend my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Sergeant Andrew Joseph Doiron”.

“Sergeant Doiron was a true Canadian patriot, whose bravery and dedication to Canada’s security is an inspiration to us all. May he rest in peace.”

According to an online Kurdish newspaper, the E-Kurd Daily, Sgt. Doiron and his unit were returning to their post late at night and were mistaken for Arabs.

A spokesman for the peshmerga told the Associated Press that the soldiers were stationed in Bashiq, a small village north of Mosul. When the soldiers approached their observation post and ignored orders to remain inside their vehicle the peshmerga began to fire.

“The peshmerga asked them to identify themselves. They answered in Arabic, that’s when the peshmerga started shooting,” said Halgurd Hekmat.

“Every member of Canada’s Special Operations Forces Command feels a great loss at Drew’s passing. He was a gifted special operator and a great leader,” said Brigadier-General Michael Rouleau, Commander of Canadian Special Operations Forces Command.

“He loved his job and the people he soldiered with. We grieve with Drew’s family and extend our condolences to them. Our thoughts are also with our three injured operators. We will bring Drew home with all dignity and wrap our arms around our injured Brothers and we will carry on with our important mission in Iraq.”

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