Harper makes surprise visit to Iraq to bolster anti-IS fight

Stephen Harper made a surprise visit Saturday to Iraq, the focus of a military campaign by Canada and allies to beat back Islamic State militants who still control about one-third of the country.

Mr. Harper arrived in Iraq about 7 a.m. Saturday morning, Baghdad time, travelling in a Canadian C-17 heavy lift military aircraft and protected by heavy security.

The prime minister’s trip has been under a media blackout, for security reasons, until after early Saturday meetings in the Iraqi capital.

His first order of business was meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, whose unity government is trying to overcome deep-seated divisions between Sunnis, Shias and Kurds as it fights to reclaim Iraqi territory from Islamic State forces.