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Ukrainian troops pull out of al Kut

From CNN Producer Nastya Anashkina

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MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Ukrainian troops withdrew Wednesday from the Iraqi city of al Kut after coalition forces in the area faced fierce fighting from insurgents, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry told CNN.

The area south of Baghdad has come under siege from Shiites loyal to radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Ukrainian forces, based near al Kut, had moved in Sunday to help reinforce the mayor's house, a TV station, and a bridge that serves as an important dam, Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman Konstantin Khivrenko said.

There were 20 coalition troops inside the mayor's house, Khivrenko said. Those coalition troops, as well as the Ukrainian forces that moved in, faced threats to their lives from the insurgents, he said.

The troops inside the house decided to leave the area, and the Ukrainian troops pulled out as well, Khivrenko said. They are back at their base, about 1.5 kilometers (about 1 mile) from al Kut, he said.

There are about 1,600 Ukrainian troops total in Iraq.

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