Bulgarian Parliament Agrees Mission to Guard Camp Ashraf

Bulgaria’s parliament has approved a government decision to send up to 155 troops to guard an Iraqi camp.

Earlier this month the Socialist-led government agreed to deploy a non-combat unit of 120 lightly armed soldiers plus support staff to guard a camp of mainly Iranian refugees in Ashraf, about 70 km north of Baghdad.

The lawmakers whose approval is adamant for any major troop deployments voted Wednesday 151 to 15 in favour of the move.

The unit is due to depart by the end of March for a year-long mission

The government’s decision came less than two months after the Balkan country pulled out all its soldiers from the Arab country.

It originally sent a 450-strong light infantry unit to take part in post-invasion military operations. The country lost 13 soldiers and six civilians.

The new mission in Iraq will cost Bulgaria some EUR 8 M, the defense ministry has said.

Sofia News Agency, February 22, 2006

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