More than 2,000 Italian servicemen departed for Somalia on Friday to help U.N. peacekeepers withdraw from the strife-wracked East African nation.
Five ships carrying Italian soldiers and marines are expected to arrive off Mogadishu in early February, Navy spokesman Dalmazio Sauro said.
“They are going to create a frame of security” for the last 8,400 peacekeeping soldiers in Mogadishu, mostly Pakistanis and Egyptians, he said.
The withdrawal is expected to be completed before the U.N peacekeeping mandate expires on March 31. Three U.S. warships carrying 3,000 Marines also are expected to assist in the pullout.