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Troops throughout Iraq can expect more timely delivery of Stars and Stripes when presses start rolling in Baghdad next week.

On Wednesday, an Iraqi press facility will join one in Kuwait in printing daily copies of Stars and Stripes for troops serving in the Middle East.

“It’s been a long, hard road to reach the troops in Iraq,” Publisher Tom Kelsch said.

“On April 11th of this year, we began printing and delivery from Kuwait City, but the demand from troops for timely news simply commanded we get closer. These servicemembers have limited television and Internet access, and they’re longing for news from home.”

Troops will continue to receive the papers for free.

The Baghdad facility will print the newspaper’s Middle East edition, which contains U.S. and world news, military news, sports, entertainment, comics and other features of the daily newspapers published in Europe and the Pacific.

In addition to getting the news to the troops more efficiently, the move will help the local economy by employing more Iraqi citizens.

“The press shop is by no means modern, but they’re literally pulling people off the streets to hand collate the paper and get the job done,” Production Manager Ron Garcia said.

Stars and Stripes reporters have been in the region since last winter, providing daily coverage of the troop buildup, the war and its aftermath. The paper now has news and circulation bureaus in Kuwait and Baghdad.

“Even though Stars and Stripes is authorized by the Department of Defense,” Editorial Director David Mazzarella, “it enjoys independent status and publishes without censorship. This independence and protection under the First Amendment is guaranteed both by Congress and the defense department. This makes it all the more valuable to the servicemembers who are our readers, whether in war or peace.”

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