With the end of the year approaching, a number of governments are withdrawing their troops from Iraq, or planning to pull them out.
Ukraine’s last soldiers have now returned home. They were posted just south of Baghdad, in a deployment that lasted more than two years. Ukraine opposed the invasion of Iraq but later contributed 1,650 troops to the coalition, becoming one of the largest non-NATO participants. Some 18 Ukrainian soldiers were killed and 32 wounded.
The last Bulgarians belonging to the US-led force in Iraq also pulled out just after Christmas and Lithuania is halving its force of 100 in January.
South Korea’s parliament has just approved a bill to cut by about one third the size of its military presence in Iraq. There are currently 3,200 Koreans there – the third-largest foreign contingent after the US and Britain. The government said progress in rebuilding Iraq is the reason for the reduction.
Meanwhile, Poland’s new President Lech Kaczynski has agreed to keep troops in Iraq for another year – reversing the pledges of previous Polish leaders to pull out. However the force will be cut to 900 from 1,500.