Poles demand Iraq troop pullout

Poland's opposition Peasants' Party has officially kicked off a national drive to collect signatures for a petition demanding the immediate withdrawal of Polish troops from Iraq.

    Polish soldiers are stationed south of Baghdad

    "We hope that millions of Poles will back the call for the withdrawal

    of Polish troops from Iraq," said party leader Janusz Wojciechowski on Sunday.

    Most political parties have criticised the initiative, accusing Woj

    ciechowski's party of "populism" and saying it was launched for election purposes.

    Poland, a US ally, heads a force of 6500 administering a swathe of Iraq to the south of Baghdad.

    Fourteen Poles have been killed in Iraq since the start of the US-led war in March last year - 10 soldiers and four civilians.

    According to a recent survey, 70% of Poles oppose their
    country's military involvement in Iraq.

    "It is a war which is causing more and more innocent people's
    blood to flow, where more and more Poles are dying, a war which makes the prospect of a stable world and a solution for Iraq more distant," Wojciechowski said.

    Poland hopes to reduce the number of troops it has in the
    country from 2500 to 1500 in early 2005.



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