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Georgia Sends More Troops To Iraq

TBILISI, July 20, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Georgia has sent the first of an extra 1,300 troops to Iraq.

The soldiers left for Kuwait today, where they will undergo a three-week training course for a peacekeeping mission in Iraq.

The soldiers will then be transferred to Iraqi city of Al-Kut, the capital of eastern Wasit Governorate, which borders Iran.

Tbilisi's Deputy Defense Minister Batu Kutelia told RFE/RL's Georgian Service the troops would be tasked with fighting arms smuggling in the region.

Georgia's parliament approved the troop increase last month in a move that more than doubled the contingent's size.

Georgia already has around 850 soldiers in Iraq. They are currently serving in Baghdad and Ba'qubah, but will also be sent to Al-Kut.

Copyright (c) 2007. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org

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