Italian soldiers have begun arriving in western Afghanistan, under plans by NATO to expand its peacekeeping mission in the country.
The Turkish commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, Lieutenant General Ethem Erdagi, said an initial deployment of Italian troops started to arrive today in the main western city of Herat. Soldiers from Spain, Greece and Lithuania are due in the region later.
NATO took command of ISAF in 2003. Until now, its peacekeeping troops have only been deployed in the Afghan capital Kabul and the north of the country.
NATO defense ministers meeting in France last month approved plans to expand the peacekeeping mission.
The United States has been pressing for the expansion to relieve pressure on stretched American forces.
Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.