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Italy continues troop withdrawal from Iraq


Last Update: Friday, September 2, 2005. 11:29am (AEST)
Italy continues troop withdrawal from Iraq
Defence Minister Antonio Martino says Italy will continue to reduce the number of its troops deployed to southern Iraq with new departures expected soon.

Mr Martino says "There has already been a first withdrawal of 300 men and it is expected that very soon we will proceed with a new reduction" in forces.

The Defence Minister did not give a precise date nor the size of the next troop withdrawal but adds that "the recomposition of the Italian contingent has already begun".

In June 2003 the Italian Government sent some 3,000 soldiers to Iraq.

They were deployed to Nassiriyah in the south of the country, a zone under British command.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi this year announced that he would start a gradual withdrawal of Italian troops in September.

The first group of about 100 soldiers returned to Italy in mid-August.

The Iraq war has divided Italy as Mr Berlusconi was a staunch ally of US President George W Bush's policy in Iraq, while a majority of the Italian public opposed the US-led invasion.

Anti-war feeling was also fanned by the kidnapping of several Italian aid workers and journalists by Iraqi insurgents.

In November 2003, 17 Italian soldiers and two civilians were killed and another 20 injured in Iraq in an attack for which Al Qaeda claimed responsibility.

- AFP

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... both the human and fincial costs continue to mount. The Institute for Policy Studies has recently published an analysis entitled The Mounting Costs of War and the Case for Bringing Home the Troops. Here are its key findings:

KEY FINDINGS:

"The Iraq Quagmire" is the most comprehensive accounting of the mounting costs and consequences of the Iraq War on the United States, Iraq, and the world. Among its major findings are stark figures that quantify the continuing of costs since the Iraqi elections, a period that the Bush administration claimed would be characterized by a reduction in the human and economic costs.

Vietnam Echoes

- According to current estimates, the cost of the Iraq War could exceed $700 billion. In current dollars, the Vietnam War cost U.S. taxpayers $600 billion.
- Operations costs in Iraq are estimated at $5.6 billion per month in 2005. By comparison, the average cost of U.S. operations in Vietnam over the eight-year war was $5.1 billion per month, adjusting for inflation.
- Staying in Iraq and Afghanistan at current levels would nearly double the projected federal budget deficit over the next decade.
Since 2001, the U.S. has deployed more than 1 million troops to Iraq and Afghanistan.
- Broken down per person in the United States, the cost so far is $727, making the Iraq War the most expensive military effort in the last 60 years.
- The number of journalists killed reporting the Iraq War (66) has exceeded the number of journalists killed reporting on the Vietnam War (63).

A New Kind of Quagmire

- More than 210,000 of the National Guard’s 330,000 soldiers have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- Guard mobilizations average 460 days.
- Nearly a third of active-duty troops, 341,000 men and women, have served two or more overseas tours.

Cost to Iraq

- The U.S. controls 106 military bases across Iraq. Congress has budgeted $236 million for permanent base construction in FY2005.
- At least 23,589 to 26,705 Iraqi civilians have been killed.
- On average 155 members of the Iraqi security forces have died every month since the January 2005 elections, up from an average of 65 before they were held.
- Suicide attack rates rose to 50 per month in the first five months of 2005, up from 20 per month in 2003 and 48 in 2004.
- Iraq’s resistance forces remain at 16,000-40,000 even with the U.S. coalition killing or capturing 1,600 resistance members per month.

And the World’s Less Safe

- The State Department reported that the number of “significant

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