Polish commander takes over command of international military force in Iraq

Polish Maj. Gen. Piotr Czerwinski took over leadership of the inernational coalition force in Iraq for Poland's final tour of duty there.

Czerwinski assumed control from Maj. Gen. Waldemar Skrzypczak in a ceremony attended by Poland's Prime Minister, Defense Minister and Foreign Minister at the Polish-led force's headquarters in the city of Diwaniyah. U.S. commander of coalition forces, Gen. George W. Casey and Iraqi local leaders also attended.

Poland, a staunch U.S. ally, participated in the invasion of Iraq and has commanded a multinational force there since September 2003. Poland's own 1,500 troops serving in the force are to be pulled out in early 2006. A small group of officers is expected to stay on to train the Iraqi military, the AP reports.

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