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Azerbaijan Ends Mission to Iraq


Azerbaijan ended its small military mission to Iraq Wednesday, the latest coalition country to pull out before a U.N. mandate ends this month.

U.S. military and Iraqi officials thanked the Azerbaijani force in a ceremony. Azerbaijan began its mission in August 2003 to guard the Haditha Dam. Control of the dam was transferred to the Iraqi government today.

In a statement, the U.S. military said the dam, in Anbar province, did not suffer any large-scale attacks and continued to develop under the watch of the Azerbaijani force. More than 1,000 Azerbaijani troops rotated through the mission.

So far this year, Bosnia-Herzegovina, South Korea, Poland, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Latvia and Macedonia have ended their missions to Iraq. Tonga and Japan also are expected to end their missions soon.

More than 35 nations contributed to the coalition force in Iraq under the U.N. mandate.

The mandate is expected to be replaced by a security pact with the United States that allows U.S. forces to stay for three more years.

In other news, the U.S. military says coalition forces have captured two suspected members of an alleged Iranian-backed network.

Officials say a third suspect was killed during the operation targeting Katai'b Hezbollah members that took place early today in Baghdad's Karadah district.

The group is accused of recent attacks against civilians and Iraqi and coalition forces.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

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