Page last updated at 05:13 GMT, Friday, 19 December 2008

Last S Korean troops leave Iraq


South Korean troops return home

South Korea has withdrawn the last of its troops from Iraq, ending what was once the third-largest mission there, after the US and UK deployments.

About 600 soldiers were greeted in Seoul after leaving their base near Irbil, in the north of Iraq.

South Korea sent about 3,600 soldiers to Iraq in 2004 but later scaled back the force due to public opposition.

A number of countries have withdrawn from Iraq recently as a UN mandate authorising their presence expires.

The troops "have successfully accomplished their four-year and three-month long mission and have come back to Seoul," the South Korean military command said in a statement.

South Korea had originally sent troops at the request of its major ally, the United States.

They were engaged mostly in construction work in the north of Iraq, in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

A total of about 18,000 South Korean soldiers rotated through assignments in Iraq and Kuwait.

The government had voted last year to extend the mission by one year. Earlier this year it said there was no longer any need to keep troops in Iraq beyond this year.

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