San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

New Salvadoran Brigade Heads Off to Iraq

SAN SALVADOR (EFE) – Echoing a sentiment expressed by his close ally U.S. President George W. Bush, Salvadoran President Tony Saca said Monday that a fresh contingent of his nation’s soldiers will go to Iraq this week because “there’s still work to do.”Saca told the press that the mission of the fifth contingent of 380 soldiers, scheduled to depart yesterday, is the same as that of their predecessors. He described that mission as “going to the least-dangerous place, taking part in humanitarian tasks, assisting the drinking-water system, helping in house reconstruction, and being close to the people.”The President added: “El Salvador will withdraw its troops as the anti-terrorist coalition withdraws in the coming months.”El Salvador is the only country in the hemisphere, besides the United States, that still has forces in Iraq.The country first sent troops there in August 2003 as part of a Spanish-led brigade that also included personnel from Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic. The other countries have since pulled out due to budget problems and political opposition.The Salvadoran soldiers serve six-month tours of duty in the Middle Eastern country. Since the war started, the Salvadoran contingent has suffered two fatalities: one in April 2004 during an attack on its camp by Shiite militants; and the other last month in a roadside attack.

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