28 Oct 2008

Commander of Tonga Defence Services confirms troop withdrawal from Iraq

11:30 am on 28 October 2008

The Commander of the Tonga Defence Services, has confirmed that Tonga will withdraw its soldiers from Iraq before Christmas.

Brigadier Tau'aika 'Uta'atu told Matangi Tonga online that its fourth contingent of 55 soldiers who were deployed to Iraq in August would be back in Tonga before Christmas.

Brigadier Tau'aika said that bilateral negotiation was going on between the US and the Iraq government on whether the Americans should extend their stay in Iraq beyond December.

Tonga first sent a contingent of 44 soldiers to Iraq in 2004, in response to a request from the American government for assistance.

More than 200 Tongan soldiers have served in Iraq to date.