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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 February 2006, 17:23 GMT
Bulgaria returns troops to Iraq
Bulgarian troops return from Iraq, December 2005
Bulgaria withdrew its military forces in December amid public pressure
Bulgaria's parliament has approved a government decision to send troops back to Iraq for non-combat duties.

The unit, made up of 120 soldiers and 34 support staff, will guard the Ashraf refugee camp north of Baghdad from the middle of next month.

Bulgaria pulled its 400-strong military contingent out of Iraq in December, having lost 13 troops and six civilians since joining US-led forces in 2003.

Strong public opposition had built up to involvement in the Iraq war.

Bulgaria's parliament, which has to endorse any troop deployments, voted by 151 to 15 to approve the new mission.

The Bulgarian unit will be under US control and is expected to remain in Iraq for a year.

The move opens the way for Bulgaria's return to the multinational forces in Iraq, following its military withdrawal in December.

Fellow European nations Bulgaria, Hungary and Ukraine all opted to pull out their forces last year.

But Poland's newly elected conservative government decided in December to extend its military deployment in Iraq until the end of 2006.


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