The last of El Salvador's troops in Iraq supporting the US coalition returned Saturday:
SAN SALVADOR (AFP) — The last 200 Salvadoran soldiers deployed to Iraq as part of former US president George W. Bush's "coalition of the willing" returned home Saturday, ending that country's five-and-a-half-year commitment.
Soldiers from the Cuscatlan battalion arrived at the Comalapa air force base southeast of San Salvador and waved Salvadoran and Iraqi flags as they boarded trucks bound for the capital.
The trucks first stopped at a statue of Jesus Christ, at the entrance to the city, where a military bishop held a thanksgiving mass.
"It was an enormous experience ... working shoulder to shoulder with other countries toward one objective: stability and peace in Iraq," battalion commander Cesar Acosta told AFP.
Five Salvadoran soldiers were killed and 20 wounded during their time in Iraq.
Stationed in Al Kut, on the Tigris River near the Iranian border, the Salvadoran contingent was attached to Polish soldiers and was chiefly tasked with building schools, hospitals, roads and water and electricity infrastructure.
The small Central American country, with a population of about six million, was the only Latin American country with troops in Iraq after the Dominican Republic and Honduras pulled their troops out in 2004, following Spain's lead.
The pullout reflects the improving situation in Iraq, and the conclusion of the terms of two very close allies, Tony Saca and George W. Bush.