South Korea intends to dispatch 3,000 soldiers, possibly including special operations forces and combat-ready marines, to the northern Iraqi oil town of Kirkuk as early as April, the military said Tuesday.
This expected move will make South Korea the biggest contributor to occupation forces in Iraq after the United States and Britain. President Bush praised the mission in a personal phone call overnight to South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, The AP reported.
"The U.S. side gave a positive response," Lt. Gen. Kim Jang-soo said while announcing details of the dispatch at an afternoon news conference.
The new contingent, a mixture of support troops and combat-ready forces, is expected to carry out reconstruction and maintain security in the region around Kirkuk, Kim said.
The troops will be equipped with anti-tank artillery and armored vehicles as well as personal firearms and bazookas, Kim said.
Meanwhile, U.S. occupation forces detained eight Iraqis in a town northwest of Baghdad, the military said Tuesday.
Those arrested include an ex-colonel accused of recruiting fighters and four suspected associates of former Vice President Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri. The colonel "is a mid-level in the national scheme, but quite important in the area," the US military said. (Albawaba.com)