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Iraq dispatch to begin on July 24, says Seoul official

June 11,2004
A top Defense Ministry official said yesterday the government has decided to begin sending fresh and additional troops to Iraq starting July 24. The deployment, which had been repeatedly delayed, will take place in stages and run into late August, the official said, speaking on condition that he not be identified.
“The first dispatch will leave on July 24, the second in mid-August, and we will complete sending the rest of the 3,000 troops by the end of August, “ said the official. “We will make the final decision and announcement after consultations with the governing Uri Party, and the National Security Council meeting next week.”
The first dispatch will number 700 to 800 soldiers, the official said.
The forces will be joined by some 600 soldiers from units already serving in the southern region of Iraq, near the city of Nasiriyah.
The combined force will set up bases near the Kurdish city of Irbil in the north of the country.
In a related development, Kwon Ahn-do, assistant minister for policy at the defense ministry told Uri Party lawmakers yesterday that some soldiers now serving in Iraq will be redeployed for initial work on the new bases near Irbil and for establishing security.
The National Assembly approved sending the forces to Iraq in February, but the dispatch was held up as public opposition mounted to the plan and planners debated where to send the soldiers. The force is a mix of combat and non-combat troops.
The new base near Irbil will be constructed a kilometer and a half (1 mile) south of the city’s airport. The troops are expected to help in reconstruction projects in and around Irbil.
Soldiers to be sent north of Irbil are expected to form a civil affairs brigade and assist recovery of the rural communities.
The troops expect to build highways, engage in mine-clearing, and provide DNA-testing equipment to the government to assist in the identification of exhumed remains of persons who died under the regime of former President Saddam Hussein.


by Chae Byung-gun


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