El Salvador to Send More Troops to Iraq

July 16, 2004

SAN SALVADOR (AFP) – The decisionby Salvadoran President Elías AntonioSaca to send a third contingent of troops toIraq next month is being criticized byopposition leaders and rights organizationsin El Salvador.“It is lamentable that the President issending more troops when the polls areshowing that citizens are against it,” saidJohn Nasser, spokesman for the oppositionleft-wing Darabundo Martí NationalLiberation Front (FMLN).Saca made the announcement Mondayin Washington, D.C., following a half-hourmeeting in the White House with U.S.President George W. Bush. However, hesaid his government had made the decisionseveral weeks ago.“We can’t abandon this effort when thesolution is on the way,” Saca said.RIGHTS leaders in El Salvadorresponded to the announcement with criticism,calling Salvador’s participation inIraq a “travesty.”“We are opposed to sending moretroops, because the worry and anxiety willcontinue for the humble families of thesesoldiers,” said Miguel Montenegro, presidentof the Human Rights Commission.El Salvador sent its first contingent of360 soldiers to the Iraqi city of Nayaf inAugust 2003. The second contingent oftroops was sent to relieve them inFebruary, and is scheduled to remain thereuntil the end of July.Saca, who has yet to ask congressionalpermission to send more troops, has notsaid how many soldiers he plans to send inAugust.El Salvador is the last country of aninternational unit known as “The UltraPlus Brigade,” following the pullouts oftroops from Nicaragua, Honduras, Spainand the Dominican Republic.

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