South Korea ends Iraq deployment, troops head home

A South Korean general offered a wish for peace in Iraq on Monday as his troops ended a five-year reconstruction mission in the country - the latest departure from the dwindling US-led coalition. The South Koreans are among troops from 13 countries being sent home in advance of the December 31 expiration of the UN mandate that authorized military operations in Iraq. The South Koreans will begin leaving Wednesday and are all due to leave by December 20, the country's military said. "Although we are leaving this place, all of us are going to sincerely wish for the peace and prosperity of the government of Iraq and successful fulfillment of our allies' missions," Maj. Gen. Park Sun-Woo said during a brief ceremony in Irbil, 220 miles (350 kilometers) north of Baghdad. The first South Korean "Zaytun" contingent - the Arabic word for olive and the troops' code name for their mission - was sent to Irbil in September 2004 with 3,600 troops. About 520 troops will be part of this month's withdrawal.