Operation IMPACT is the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) contribution to the Middle East Stabilization Force (MESF) – the multinational coalition to halt and degrade the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Republic of Iraq and in Syria. Op IMPACT is halting and degrading the so-called ISIS, which has lost the ability to operate freely in roughly 25 to 30 percent of populated areas of Iraq territory it previously controlled.

[su_note]Attention: Latest News – Air operations As of 9 September 2015, Air Task Force-Iraq conducted 1461 sorties: CF-188 Hornet fighters conducted 939 sorties; CC-150T Polaris aerial refueller conducted 251 sorties, delivering some 15,087,000 pounds of fuel to coalition aircraft; and CP-140 Aurora aircraft conducted 271 reconnaissance missions. Definition – sortie: In air operations, a sortie refers to an operational flight by one aircraft. A sortie starts when one aircraft takes off and ends upon landing.[/su_note]

[su_expand]Joint Task Force-Iraq Approximately 600 CAF personnel are deployed as part of Joint Task Force-Iraq (JTF-I), which includes: provision of planning and liaison personnel to work with the U.S. and other coalition partners; command and control, and logistics; and an air task force. As part of Joint Task Force-Iraq, Air Task Force-Iraq (ATF-I) contributes to coalition air operations against the so-called ISIS.This mission extension and expansion allows the CAF to strike the so-called ISIS targets in both Iraq and Syria. The use of air power contributes to the destruction of the so-called ISIS infrastructure and equipment, denying them the military means to attack Iraqi security forces or coalition assets. The ATF-I includes: six CF-18 Hornet fighter aircraft; one CC-150T Polaris aerial refueller to support coalition air operations; two CP-140M Aurora surveillance aircraft to contribute to coalition intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities; and aircrew support elements[/su_expand]

Mission Context

About the so-called ISIS

The so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria was founded in Iraq in October 2004 when the leader of Jamaat al-Tawhid wal-Jihad aligned with Al-Qaeda, creating what was then known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq. In 2013, the group was renamed ISIL and is commonly referred to as the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the so-called Islamic State (IS).

The so-called ISIS advocates radical interpretations of Islam and claims religious authority over all Muslims. It aims to create a caliphate in the Levant region – which includes Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Lebanon, Cyprus and a part of southern Turkey – by converting or killing non-Sunni populations. Its ultimate objective is the establishment of a world-wide Islamic caliphate.

It is estimated that the so-called ISIS has 30,000 fighters in total across Iraq and Syria, of which 15,000 are foreign recruits. The group has acquired equipment including tanks, artillery pieces and other light vehicles, mainly stolen from Iraqi and Syrian military installations.

International Response

The group began taking control of territory in Iraq and Syria in 2014, starting with Fallujah in Iraq in January 2014 and culminating with the fall of Mosul in June 2014. Its rapid advance across Iraq and Syria has displaced millions of people, has undermined stability in Iraq and the region and poses a threat to international security.

As a result, a United States-led coalition that includes many of Canada’s closest allies and partners, as well as important regional partners, is conducting targeted airstrikes to degrade the so-called ISIS.

Mission timeline

  • June 2014 – The Islamic State militant group known as the so-called ISIS captured Iraq’s city of Mosul. The religious extremists offered all non-Muslims an ultimatum to convert to Islam, pay a religious fine, leave the city or be executed. Since then, the so-called ISIS has expanded its territorial control in Iraq.
  • 7 August 2014 – United States President Barack Obama authorised targeted military intervention in Iraq.
  • 10 August 2014 – The Canadian Government committed $5 million in aid to assist displaced Iraqis.
  • 28 August 2014 – The first delivery of military supplies by the Canadian Armed Forces was successfully delivered to security forces in Iraq. An RCAF CC-177 Globemaster III transported approximately 35,000 pounds of military supplies donated by the Republic of Albania.
  • 5 September 2014 – Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the deployment of several dozen members of the CAF to Iraq to join the U.S. in advising the Government of Iraq on how to enable security forces to be more effective against the threat posed by the so-called  ISIS.
  • 18 September 2014 – The first CC-177 Globemaster delivery of military supplies donated by the Czech Republic took place.
  • 19 September 2014 – Canada received a direct request for additional military support against the so-called ISIS from the U.S. Government.
  • 3 October 2014 – Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke in the House of Commons on Canada’s future contributions to the fight against the so called ISIS.
  • 7 October 2014 – Following a debate and a vote in the House of Commons on the CAF’s role in international efforts in the fight against the so-called ISIS, the Government of Canada announced that the CAF would contribute to the coalition in the conduct of airstrikes aimed at degrading the so-called ISIS’s ability to carry out military operations against the people of the Republic of Iraq, while continuing its non-combat measures. The CAF mission was extended for up to six months.
  • 28 October 2014 – All ATF-I air assets (aircraft, aircrew and supporting personnel) arrived in Kuwait.
  • 30 October 2014 – Two CF-188 Hornets, one CP-140 Aurora and one CC-150T Polaris conducted their first missions as part of the MESF. The two CF-188 Hornets did not drop any bombs. The successful conduct of the first ATF-I missions confirmed the integration of Canadian air assets in the MESF.
  • 2 November 2014 – CF-188 Hornets conducted Canada’s first combat airstrike on the so-called ISIS targets.
  • 24 March 2015 – Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced his intent in the House of Commons to extend and expand Canada’s military mission against the so-called ISIS. The additional elements of the mission included conducting air strikes in Syria, and deployment of as many as 30 staff officer to coalition headquarters.
  • 30 March 2015 – The CAF mission was formally extended for as many as 12 months and expanded into Syria.
  • April-June 2015 – The second rotation of JTF-I personnel deployed to Iraq; personnel were rotated over the course of a relief in place that began in mid-April 2015.

Delivery of military supplies to Iraq

Between 28 August and 26 September 2014, Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) aircraft conducted 25 flights to deliver more than 1,600,000 pounds (725,000 kilograms) of military supplies to Iraq. The donations from allied countries included small arms, ammunition and other military equipment. The supplies were delivered in concert with military partners including the United Kingdom and the United States, to security forces working in Baghdad and Erbil.