"All the medical facilities and training facilities as well as 36,472 articles of equipment and materials … will remain there and will continue to serve the Iraqi people," Won said.

Despite the largely humanitarian nature of the deployment, it was largely unpopular with the South Korean public.

South Korea's withdrawal comes as Japan also ended its five year mission in Iraq this week, recalling its three aircraft involved in airlift operations.

Tokyo withdrew its 600-strong force in southern Iraq in 2006 but continued air support, lifting equipment and troops.