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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » July 30, 2008
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Iraq Mission Almost Over
July 30, 2008   
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Polish troops in Iraq July 16 transferred responsibility for the province of Qadisiyah to the local authorities. Gen. Andrzej Malinowski, commander of the Polish troops in Iraq, signed documents at the base in Diwaniyah with Iraqi government officials on the transfer of responsibility for the province.

Now the Polish soldiers' only job is to pack their equipment and return to Poland. They will be going out on combat missions only in exceptional cases and at the express request of the Iraqi army.

Qadisiyah is the tenth of Iraq's 18 provinces where power has been handed over to local security forces. At the ceremony of transferring authority over Qadisiyah province, Mowaffak al-Rubai, the Iraqi government's national security adviser, thanked the coalition forces for their operations "aimed at stability and security in the province" and said he was convinced that the Iraqi government would assume control of all 18 provinces in the country by the end of the year. U.S. Gen. Lloyd Austin, second-in-command of the U.S. forces in Iraq, said that significant progress had been made in the province in terms of security, adding that the transfer of Qadisiyah was another sign that the democratic government of Iraq was working for the good of all the citizens.

The ceremony was originally planned for June 30 and Polish Defense Minister Bogdan Klich was expected to attend. However, the event was canceled at the last minute, officially due to bad weather-an approaching sandstorm. But the media have speculated that the real reason may have been the threat of a terrorist attack.

Polish troops have been on their mission in Iraq since mid-2003. According to the Polish Ministry of Defense, the last Polish soldiers will leave the country by the end of October, with just 20 training officers remaining in Iraq to work as part of a NATO mission.
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