Welcome home parade marks Australia's withdrawal of troops from Iraq

Australian troops who served in Iraq were celebrated at a welcome home parade on Saturday that also marked the withdrawal of the country's combat operations in the war zone. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was among thousands of people who attended the parade through the northeastern city of Brisbane, which was partly closed down as some 700 troops in desert camouflage uniforms and the Australian army's distinctive "slouch" hats marched by. Australia, one of just three countries to send troops to join the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, this month ended combat duties for its soldiers. Rudd was elected last year on a promise to bring Australia's 500 combat troops home. About 1,000 Australian troops remain in the Middle East in roles supporting the Iraq occupation. Australia also has about 1,000 troops in Afghanistan. The troops who marched Saturday all served in southern Iraq, where the Australians held key security roles and undertook training of Iraqi forces. Just one Australian soldier died in Iraq, in an accidental shooting.