A predominantly Kurdish battalion based in the northern city of Sulaimaniya, has started the move towards Baghdad as the Iraqi military prepares for a major security operation aimed at pacifying the Iraqi capital.
Hundreds of soldiers have boarded dozens of vehicles to begin the trip to Baghdad, 260km away.
Members of the Kurdish battallion will undergo specialised military training before being deployed in the capital, said Brigadier General Anwar Golani, the brigade's commander.
|The Kurds are set for more training [Reuters]|
Training will be conducted at a base in western Baghdad under the supervision of US troops.
The Iraqi government has not set a date for the new security operation, announced by Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, this month.
George Bush, the US president, has pledged to send 21,500 more US troops to Iraq, most of whom will be sent to the Baghdad, as part of his new war strategy.
Aid worker killed
An American who worked for the National Democratic Institute, a US nonprofit group that promotes democracy, was killed with three guards when their convoy was attacked in Baghdad on Wednesday, the group said.
Les Campbell, the NDI's regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said the three-car convoy carrying the worker and her security guards was attacked as they were leaving a project in Baghdad.
He said the security guards killed were Iraqi, Croatian and Hungarian citizens.
Campbell said: "Sometime mid-to-late morning in Baghdad a three-car convoy carrying one of our staff people along with a security contingent was attacked as they left a location where they were conducting an NDI programme.
"We do not believe it was a car bomb. It was some other kind of coordinated attack."