SOFIA, March 29 (Xinhua) -- Bulgaria on Wednesday sent its first non-combat
unit of 120 soldiers and 33 service staff to guard the Iraqi refugee camp of
Ashraf, the state-run Bulgarian Telegraph Agency reported.
Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev and Defense Minister Veselin Bliznakov were
among those who attended a send-off ceremony at Kazanlak barracks in central
On Feb. 22, the Bulgarian parliament approved the government's decision to send
up to 155 troops to guard the Ashraf refugee camp, about 70 km north of
Baghdad. The camp currently shelters 3,500 Iranian refugees.
Under the plans, the unit will stay there for one year, after which
Bulgarian commanders will decide whether it is necessary fora rotation.
The Bulgarian contingent will be under the command of the U.S. military
which pays for its transportation, logistical and medicalexpenses. Bulgaria will
spend about 8 million euros (9.84 million U.S. dollars) on its soldiers'
training, salary and insurance.
The move came only a few months after Bulgaria pulled out its 450-strong
contingent from Iraq. During the 29-month stay in Iraq,13 Bulgarian soldiers