Canadians stabilized colleague instead of returning friendly fire

Military pallbearers from the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command carry the flag-draped casket of Sgt. Andrew Joseph Doiron at Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Trenton, Ontario, Tuesday, March 10, 2015. Sgt. Doiron was killed by friendly fire during operation Impact in northern Iraq. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Lars Hagberg)

In a CBC News exclusive, it has been reported that Special Forces Operator Sgt. Andrew Doiron and his colleagues were caught off guard and gunned down by Canada’s Kurdish allies on March 6 as the allies suddenly turned their weapons on the special operations troops. Doiron died instantly as the guns moved from their ISIS targets to him and his fellow military members.

A Canadian senior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Doiron was killed and three other soliders were wounded because of a case of mistaken identity at a Kurdish checkpoint near the front lines. It has been alleged that the Canadian troops did not properly identify themselves as they came dangerously close to the area.

However, Canadian officials are disputing the claim. They have stated that at no time were Canadian forces closer than 2.2 kilometers to ISIS forces and they never deviated from a predetermined plan to meet up that evening with allies.

After training Peshmerga forces for most of the day, Doiron and the special operations team told their allies they would return that night at 11 p.m. to train them on night vision equipment. Before they left, the two teams agreed on a code phrase that they could use to get through the three roadblocks they would hit on their way back.

That evening the Canadian team was able to successfully pass through the first two roadblocks with the use of their code phrase. But when they arrived at the final checkpoint, things went disastrously bad. According to the Canadian investigation, a young, possibly inexperienced Peshmerga fighter near the roadblock suddenly opened fire when the code word was used.

CBC News reported that the final roadblock was very close to the Kurdish forward post. The Kurds’ heavier guns were pointed toward ISIS forces, about 2.2 kilometers in the opposite direction. When they heard the gunfire from the young Peshmerga soldier, the Kurds swiveled their heavier guns 180 degrees and started firing at the Canadians.

The well-armed Canadians, even though one was seriously injured by the gunfire, realized immediately that it was friendly fire and did not fire back in response. ​Instead, they focused on saving the life of their fellow soldier. They stabilized their colleague while their local driver begged the Peshmerga to stop shooting.

“I was so proud of them,” said the unidentified Canadian official. “They were highly disciplined.”

The official is resolute that the Canadians did everything right. Both the Canadians and Kurds are conducting separate investigations. Training commenced the week following the incident.

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