Bulgaria resumes military missions to Iraq

Bulgaria resumed military missions to Iraq Wednesday, sending non-combat troops to join multinational forces for the first time since December. Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev saw the 120-member unit off, saying Bulgaria was fulfilling its responsibilities as a member of the anti-terror coalition.

"The Iraqi people need to be supported by their new partners," Stanishev said. Last month, Bulgaria 's parliament endorsed a government decision under which Bulgaria will send 120 servicemen and a supporting team of 35 people on a one-year assignment in Iraq .

The decision opened the way for Bulgaria 's return to the multinational forces in Iraq after the withdrawal of its 450-strong infantry battalion in December. The unit will be under U.S. command and will help guard the Ashraf refugee camp, situated some 70 kilometers (45 miles) north of Baghdad . Bulgaria has lost 13 soldiers in Iraq since August 2003, when it joined the U.S.-led forces. Seven died in insurgent attacks, one was killed by U.S. troops in a friendly fire incident and five died in vehicle accidents, reports the AP.


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