Georgia's contingent in Iraq was preparing to head home today to join the
fighting against Russia in the breakaway province of South Ossetia.
Georgia has asked the US military to provide transportation, but arrangements
haven't been finalised, said Colonel Bondo Maisuradze, commander of the Georgia
brigade. US officials could not confirm details, and said all options were being
``We are almost ready to redeploy,'' Colonel Maisuradze said in a telephone
interview today. ``Our government has requested the removal of all our forces,
but we are still waiting for the flight schedule.''
Georgia is the third-largest contributor to coalition forces after the US and
Britain. The troops moved last year from the relatively safe Green Zone in
Baghdad to an area south-east of the capital to help interdict supplies
allegedly being smuggled to Shiite extremists from Iran.
The US military has said the departure of the Georgian contingent will have
``some impact'' in the near term but no significant long-term effect on Iraq's
At least five Georgians soldiers have died in Iraq since the US-led invasion in
Some Iraqis welcomed the Georgian withdrawal, saying they're tired of the
presence of US-led foreign troops.
``God willing, not only the Georgian forces will withdraw but all other troops
will leave our country and security and stability will come back to our land,''
Baghdad resident Ghada Adnan said.
Georgia, a former Soviet republic whose troops have been trained by American
soldiers, began an offensive to regain control over South Ossetia overnight on
Friday, launching heavy rocket and artillery fire and air strikes.
In response, Russia, which has granted passports to most South Ossetians, began
overwhelming bombing and shelling attacks against Georgia and Georgian troops.