BAGHDAD — The commander of the 2,000 Georgian troops in Iraq said Saturday that his soldiers would leave the country to join the fight against Russia over a separatist Georgian republic.
Though relatively small in number, the Georgians have made up the third-largest force of foreign troops in Iraq, behind the United States and Britain. They mostly have been deployed to bolster security along the border with Iran, where U.S. officials say bombs that cause most American troop deaths are smuggled into the country.
Georgia, which is a U.S. ally, launched an operation Friday to assert authority over breakaway South Ossetia, prompting clashes with troops sent in from Russia, which backs the republic's drive for independence.
"Because of this, we are forced to redeploy our troops to defend our country," said Col. Bondo Maisuradze, chief of Georgia's military operations in Iraq. "If you see the pictures on TV, you will know we are in a hurry to get home as soon as possible."