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Iraqi and U.S. troops will be taking over the Iraq checkpoints and patrol bases manned by Georgian troops before their hasty departure to deal with the conflict in their own country.

Some 2,000 Georgian troops — who made up the third-largest foreign military contingent in Iraq — were airlifted out of the country by U.S. military officials this week.

The Georgians had been called home to deal with the fighting with Russian forces sparked by the conflict over separatist regions.

On Friday, the U.S. military said members of the Iraqi security forces, along with U.S. troops from the 41st Fires Brigade, would "occupy the different checkpoints and patrol bases that the 1st Georgian Brigade manned before they redeployed home."

The Georgians had responsibility for an area of Iraq near the border with Iran.

U.S. officials said the Americans would work with the Iraqis on the various missions.

"Right now, the Iraqi soldiers have taken over the responsibility of the traffic control point," 2nd Lt. Charles Hines, of 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment, was quoted as saying in a military statement. "But we are going to train them to be able to take over the entire patrol base, go and do presence patrols and set up temporary traffic control points in our area."

The Georgians’ departure could have a larger impact on the war in Iraq, according to reports Friday.

The Los Angeles Times, quoting an unnamed "senior military official," said the Georgian move could affect any future withdrawal of U.S. troops.

According to the Times, the U.S. withdrawal plans were "predicated on all partner nations keeping their troop levels intact."

The Times report, which could not be verified on deadline Friday, said the Georgian troops were "central to a new push to block weapons shipments coming across the border from Iran into southeastern Iraq, setting up a base in the city of Kut and patrolling nearby border regions."


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