The last contingent of allied forces in Dohuk left the northern Iraqi city Saturday, turning over to U.N. guards the task of protecting its Kurds from Saddam Hussein's army, U.N. and Kurdish sources said.
Fifty allied troops departed from Dohuk after preparing it for the return of thousands of its residents, who had been forced to flee their homes along with Kurds all over northern Iraq after Saddam crushed their revolt against his regime in March.News of the Dohuk pullout prompted hundreds of Kurds to demonstrate in city streets Friday to demand the Western troops stay put until a final peace is established between the Kurds and Baghdad.
Dohuk - once the home of some 175,000 people, mostly Kurds - lies outside the so-called safe havens established by allied troops in northern Iraq to encourage Kurdish refugees to come home.
The allied troops, mostly Americans and Britons, entered the city last month to restore basic services damaged during the revolt against Saddam and the gulf war. In their absence, lightly armed United Nations guards will patrol the city, trying to keep a distance between the Kurdish residents and Saddam's troops, and witnessing - but not necessarily intervening in - any violation of human rights that might occur.
A Defense Department spokesman, however, did not say when allied troops would leave other areas of northern Iraq, including Zakho, but he said their humanitarian mission had almost been completed there also.