Italy to gradually withdraw its troops from Iraq

Italy's troop withdrawal from Iraq will continue in groups of 300, until 1,000 remain, when they will all be removed, Italian news agencies Thursday quoted Premier Silvio Berlusconi as saying. Italy recently withdrew a first group of 300, reducing its military contingent in Iraq to about 2,700 troops. Berlusconi reiterated Rome's position that withdrawals would be made in agreement with its allies and with the Iraqi government. Italy sent in troops to southern Iraq after the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003 to help with reconstruction.