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10 May, 2008 12:09

Georgia buries Iraq victims

The funerals for two Georgian peacekeepers, killed in Iraq, have been held in Tbilisi. Lieutenant Giorgi Margiyev and Corporal Zurab Gvenetadze were the first Georgians killed since the country’s operation began in Iraq.

Their army truck hit a roadside bomb while on patrol outside Baghdad.

Georgia has 2000 peacekeepers in Iraq. It's the third largest contingent in the country after the United States and Britain. The day before the funeral, senior U.S. diplomats praised the country's contribution.

Matt Bryza, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, believes Georgia's soldiers are among the finest In Iraq, in terms of their professionalism.

“Our military commanders constantly praise the ability and the performance of Georgian soldiers, and we are so grateful that Georgia still has the third largest contingent in the coalition in Iraq,” Bryza said.

Hundreds gathered to pay their respects at the funeral of 21-year-old Corporal Gvenetadze. His relatives and colleagues spoke of his devotion to duty.

As his body was laid to rest, the national anthem rang out, and a salute was fired into the air.