World News

Last South Korean troops sent to Iraq return home

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea, which once had the third-largest contingent of foreign soldiers in Iraq, ended its mission there on Friday by bringing home all of the troops it had deployed to the country.

Several hundred South Korean soldiers who had been given a non-combat assignment in a relatively safe Kurdish area of Iraq were greeted by a band and presented with flowers after arriving in Seoul.

The South Korean government earlier this year said it no longer saw the need to keep soldiers there. The government had sent the troops upon the request of its major ally, the United States.

“(The troops) have successfully accomplished their four-year and three-month long mission and have come back to Seoul,” the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

South Korea sent 3,600 soldiers to Iraq in 2004 in what was the largest foreign troop deployment after the United States and Britain, but has been rolling back troop levels amid public opposition to the mission.

The past few months have seen a string of departures by U.S. military allies in Iraq as violence subsides and the end of a U.N. mandate authorizing their deployment to the country approaches.

Reporting by Jon Herskovitz and Kim Junghyun; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner