Italy begins troop withdrawal from Iraq
By the end of June there should be just 1,600 Italian soldiers stationed in the country, Italian state television reported.Updated: Jun 14, 2006 21:29 IST
Italy on Wednesday began its gradual withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
By the end of June there should be just 1,600 Italian soldiers stationed in the country, Italian state television reported.
Following the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003 there were 3,200 Italian soldiers stationed in Nasiriyah in southern Iraq.
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, who entered office three weeks ago, promised that all the troops would be withdrawn by next spring.
It was a central promise in his election campaign against his predecessor as premier, Silvio Berlusconi, who originally sent the troops to Iraq.
The Italian withdrawal represents another reduction in the so-called "Coalition of the willing" -- Spain withdrew its 1,300 troops in 2004 and the Netherlands 1,300 soldiers a year later.
Ukraine also withdrew its 1,650 troops and Nicaragua, the Philippines and Honduras pulled out their small contingents.
Countries such as Britain and South Korea have also reduced their troop numbers. There are around 1,38,000 foreign troops in Iraq, the majority being Americans.
Thirty-one Italian soldiers lost their lives in Iraq, 19 of them in a suicide attack in Nasiriyah in November 2003.
First Published: Jun 14, 2006 21:21 IST