Australia ends combat service in Iraq
AP: P.M. Kevin Rudd fulfills campaign promise, saying troops in Iraq made Australia a terrorism target
LT. COL. CHRIS WEBSDANE, COMMANDING OFFICER: The work here is now done, and it’s time to return to your families and loved ones. You should be proud of your achievements.
JOHN BELMONT, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Fulfilling a campaign promise, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is pulling combat troops out of Iraq. On Sunday, troops lowered the Australian flag that had flown in the southern Iraqi city of Talil.
WEBSDANE: You should be proud of your personal sacrifices and the part you have all played in bringing hope and prosperity to the people of Al Multhanna and Dhi Qar.
BELMONT: Australia has 550 combat troops in Iraq, mainly responsible for training Iraqis in logistics management, combat service support, and counterterrorism operations. About 300 Australian troops will remain in Iraq, mostly for logistical support. Everyone else will be home by the end of the month.
ANGUS HOUSTON, HEAD OF AUSTRALIAN DEFENSE FORCE: I don’t want to go into the precise details of how we’re going to extract, but fundamentally the extraction of the people will be done fairly quickly. They’ll all be out in the month of June. In fact, they’ll all be back in time for that welcome home on June 28.
BELMONT: Six Australian soldiers were wounded while serving in Iraq. The prime minister says he remains committed to keeping about 1,000 Australian forces stationed in Afghanistan. John Belmont, the Associated Press.
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