Canadian special forces have engaged with Islamic State fighters in ground combat in Iraq, in what their commander says was the first time they had taken and returned fire.
Brigadier-General Michael Rouleau, commander of the special forces, said Monday the engagement took place in the past week, when the Canadian soldiers, who had been training Iraqi forces, took them to the front line "to visualize" what they had been discussing.
Rouleau said his forces came under "immediate and effective mortar and machine gun fire" and that the Canadians responded by neutralizing the Islamic State positions.
The general said it was a matter of self-defense.
Western nations, including the United States, involved in the air campaign against IS had vowed not to engage in ground combat. Canada, like others, said its forces stationed in Iraq were there to advise and train Iraqi forces to do battle with IS.