Canadian special forces troops are spending more time on the front lines in Iraq and have engaged in a number of gunfights with Islamic insurgents in the last few months.

Brig.-Gen. Peter Dawe, deputy commander of the special forces, says the additional time on the front lines is a result of Kurdish allies needing less training.

Instead, Dawe says his soldiers are helping and mentoring the Kurds as they launch attacks against forces from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Dawe says Canadian troops have fired back on a number of instances either to protect themselves or friendly forces.