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Georgian Soldiers Head to Iraq

Category: Defence Industry

The first of Georgia’s 550 troops whose deployment will nearly triple the Caucasus nation’s tiny contingent in Iraq left March 1 for the war-torn country.
“I order you to all return safe and sound,” armed forces chief Levan Nikoleishvili said at a send-off ceremony outside of Tbilisi.

The troops are due to be posted in Baghdad, where they will ensure security at a military base of the U.S.-led coalition forces in the Iraqi capital.

Georgia said in the beginning of the year that it would boost its 300-strong troop presence in Iraq, but the U.S., which was in charge of transporting the soldiers, had delayed the planned January deployment for technical reasons.

Georgia, a close ally of the United States since U.S.-educated Mikhail Saakashvili was inaugurated president in January 2003, sent its first 70 soldiers to Iraq in August of that year and has steadily increased its military presence ever since.

The 300 soldiers currently in Iraq are posted in the city of Baaquba, northeast of Baghdad.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
04.03.2005

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