MADRID, Spain – Spain (search), a leading U.S. ally during the war to oust Saddam Hussein, has agreed to send 1,300 soldiers to Iraq.
The troops will join a Polish-led multinational division policing central and southern Iraq, Defense Minister Federico Trillo (search) told a news conference Friday, after the plan was approved at a cabinet meeting.
The Spanish soldiers will have a renewable six-month mandate.
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar (search) was one of the United States' most outspoken supporters before and during the Iraq war, and his government sent 900 non-combat troops in a support role during the conflict.
Spain's troops will be assigned to the provinces of al-Qadisiya and Najaf, which includes the Shiite holy city of the same name.
The Spanish troops' equipment will take three weeks to arrive, and the soldiers themselves will be flown aboard Spanish or U.S. aircraft.
The United States has asked dozens of countries to contribute troops in Iraq. The occupation force is overwhelmingly American.
Britain, Australia, Italy, the Netherlands and Hungary, all of which backed the war, are among other nations supplying troops.