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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 December 2007, 12:17 GMT
Homecoming parade for Iraq troops
Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh parade in Cardiff

Hundreds of soldiers have been given a heroes' welcome as they marched through Cardiff city centre to mark their return home from Iraq.

About 450 soldiers from the 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh took part in the homecoming parade.

Some 220 who had been on their first tour of duty in Iraq were presented with medals at the Millennium Stadium.

The parade celebrated the end of the tour of duty, and three soldiers who lost their lives were also remembered.

For the ceremony - hosted by the Welsh Assembly Government - the soldiers, led by the Lucknow Band of the Prince of Wales Division and a Warrior armoured tracked vehicle, marched from Cardiff Castle, along St Mary Street to the Millennium Stadium.

Crowds gather for the parade in Cardiff

In front of their families, friends and members of the public, the Iraq medals were presented ahead of a lunch party on the pitch.

Commanding officer Lt Colonel James Swift said: "We are very lucky to be able to mark our return to Wales in such style and pay a fitting tribute to our fallen comrades."

Three members of the battalion who lost their lives in Iraq - Cpl Paul Joszko, L/Cpl Ryan Francis and Pte Craig Barber - were honoured at the ceremony.

Two other soldiers who died in Iraq while attached to the Royal Welsh from The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland - Pte Jamie Kerr and Pte Scott Kennedy - were also be remembered.

Ospreys rugby player Ian Evans, whose sister Lisa has recently returned home from Iraq, welcomed the parade.

"People are putting their lives on the line to protect us and our freedom and I think it's important for people to come along and show their support to the armed forces and the people still serving out there," he said.

The parade came after Gen Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the Army, said in September he was concerned that the work carried out by troops was not being acknowledged.

The 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh, which is based in Lucknow Barracks, Tidworth, in Wiltshire, recruits from the whole of Wales.

Soldiers march down the streets of Cardiff

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