Al-Arab Blog - مدونة العرب
Singapore ends military presence in Iraq
SINGAPORE, April 5 (AFP) - Singapore no longer has a military presence in Iraq after the last of its troops returned home on Monday from a two-month stint in the war-torn country, the government said.
Thirty-one Singaporean Armed Forces personnel and a C-130 transport plane were deployed on February 4 to help the US-led forces in Iraq conduct supply and humanitarian aid delivery missions.
With the expiry of the scheduled two-month deployment, a first batch of troops returned to Singapore with the C-130 on Sunday while a second group arrived home aboard commercial flights on Monday.
"With the return of the troops today, we have no more personnel in the Gulf," defence ministry spokeswoman Felicia Tang told AFP in an e-mailed response to questions.
The crew, which previously had never experienced a hostile environment, came under fire on about one quarter of the sorties flown in Iraq, the Straits Times newspaper said on Monday.
"This was by far the riskiest exercise we undertook and the first time we were operating in a non-benign area," contingent leader Major Francis Ngooi, who returned on Sunday, said.
Singapore has consistently shown a strong commitment to the United States in its campaign in Iraq, giving strong political and limited military support.
Aside from the C-130 crew, 160 personnel on a landing ship tank returned to Singapore in February after two months in the Gulf and 32 Singaporean police personnel were deployed last year to train the local police force.
Tang was non-committal, however, when asked if Singapore intended to send more military personnel to help the United States in Iraq.
"We will continue to evaluate in what way we can play a useful and meaningful role in the reconstruction of Iraq," she said via e-mail.
"What we contribute will also have to take into account our resource situation."
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Anti War - Anti Racism
Let the downFall of Sharon be end to Zionism
By the Late, great political cartoonist Mahmoud Kahil