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. Airlift of Georgian troops from Iraq near complete: Pentagon

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Aug 11, 2008
The US military has nearly completed the airlift of 2,000 Georgian troops from Iraq to Georgia, but is providing no other military assistance to Georgian forces, a Pentagon spokesman said.

"The support we are providing right now is in the form of transportation of their troops back from Iraq," said Bryan Whitman, the spokesman.

His comments came as Georgian officials said Russian forces were occupying the city of Gori after Georgian forces had been ordered to withdraw and reinforce the capital, Tblisi.

Whitman denied an accusation by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that the Georgian troops were flown directly into the combat zone.

Whitman said Georgian troops were moved out of Iraq in US military flights over the weekend, and that the redeployment should be completed on Monday.

He would not say where they were being taken.

"Reports suggesting they are being flown directly into the fight are wrong," he said.

"We are fulfilling our agreement with the Georgian government that in an emergency we will assist them in redeploying their troops. We are honoring that commitment," he said.

Whitman said the military commanders in Iraq were making adjustments to cover for the loss of the Georgians, the third largest troop contributor to the US-led coalition.

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke twice over the weekend with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, but those discussions focused on the troop flights, Whitman said.

The secretary also spoke with the Russian defense minister over the weekend, but Whitman would not say what they discussed.

Meanwhile, 130 US troops and military contractors who were in Georgia to train troops for deployments to Iraq have been assembled at an undisclosed location and were safe, he said.

He said there no plans to remove them from the country.

Asked if planning was underway to evacuate civilians, he said, "The US military obviously always looks at any world crisis and does a variety of contingency planning."

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Georgia to withdraw all of its troops from Iraq
Kut, Iraq (AFP) Aug 9, 2008
Georgia will withdraw its entire 2,000-strong military contingent from Iraq within three days to help battle South Ossetian separatist rebels, a senior Georgian military official said on Saturday.

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