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Japan ends Iraq mission

TOKYO, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Japan terminated its airlift mission in Iraq Friday, ending its five-year presence in the region, the Japanese Defense Ministry said.

About 200 Air Self-Defense Force personnel and three C-130 transport planes are stationed at Ali al-Salem Air Base in neighboring Kuwait. The forces and engaged in transporting U.N. personnel and supplies to Iraq's airports, KUNA reported.

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The Japanese troops will begin returning home from Kuwait Dec. 23. The withdrawal is expected be completed by the end of March, the Kuwaiti news agency reported.

Japan withdrew its ground troops from Iraq in July 2006 after offering humanitarian aid there.

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