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Canadian Sniper Hit A Target More Than 2 Miles Away, Military Confirms

A McMillan TAC-50 sniper rifle, like the one pictured at a trade show in 2010, was used to make the record-breaking shot during an operation in Iraq.
Dan Balilty
A McMillan TAC-50 sniper rifle, like the one pictured at a trade show in 2010, was used to make the record-breaking shot during an operation in Iraq.

A sniper with Canada's elite special forces is being credited with making a world record shot, after the military confirmed Thursday that he hit a target from nearly 2.2 miles away during a recent operation in Iraq.

Military sources tell Canada's The Globe and Mail newspaper that the sniper killed an ISIS insurgent during an attack on Iraqi security forces.

"The Canadian Special Operations Command can confirm that a member of the Joint Task Force 2 successfully hit a target from 3,540 meters," the force said in an email to NPR. "For operational security reasons and to preserve the safety of our personnel and our Coalition partners, we will not discuss precise details on when and how this incident took place."

The sniper reportedly fired from an elevated position; for the shot to be accurate, many factors — from wind and gravity to the Earth's curvature — would have to be taken into account.

The shot easily surpasses the previous record for the longest confirmed sniper shot of 2,474 meters (1.54 miles), which was set by Britain's Craig Harrison in 2009.

A source in the military tells the Globe and Mail that details of the shot were verified by video camera and other data, relying in part on information from a second location.

"The elite sniper was using a McMillan TAC-50 sniper rifle while firing from a high-rise during an operation that took place within the last month in Iraq," the paper reports. "It took under 10 seconds to hit the target."

Joint Task Force 2 is a specialized unit that was created in 1993, after the Canadian Armed Forces took over responsibility for federal counterterrorism operations.

The special forces group says its mission is to protect "the Canadian National Interest and combats terrorism at home and abroad."

In Iraq, Canada's Special Operations Task Force says, its role is to share expertise with Iraq's military to help "detect, identify and defeat (ISIS) activities from well behind the Iraqi security force front line in Mosul."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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