Home>News Center>World

Britain to withdraw troops from Iraq
Updated: 2005-04-04 11:23

Britain plans to reduce the size of its military force in Iraq from 9,000 to 3,500 soldiers within 12 months, as part of a phased withdrawal from the war-torn country.

Defence chiefs are planning, on the other hand, to send more troops to Afghanistan next year to support the deployment of Nato's Allied Rapid Reaction Corps headquarters, in what they said to be a renewed attempt to capture Osama bin Laden and other members of Al-Qaeda network, whom they claim are hiding near the country's border with Pakistan, The Sunday Telegraph reported.

The Telegraph report added that senior American and British military figures believe that Britain will be able to start withdrawing its troops by April next year, saying that by that time the U.S.-led occupation forces will have trained members of the Iraqi defence and police forces to handle the country’s security.

In the first stage, Britain will pull its troops back from three of the Army's five military bases in southern Iraq.

News of the British troops’ withdrawal coincides with the announcement made by a senior United States Marine Corps general that Washington would start withdrawing its troops in 12 to 24 months.

Recently, Lt Gen James Conway of the U.S. marines said that the U.S. troops withdrawal within the same time frame as the British was possible as the Iraqis were "starting to take control of their own situation".

UK forces are based in five locations in southern Iraq, including Camp Abu Naji in Al Amarah.

The rest of the 9,000 troops are divided between the three camps in Basra and the logistics base at Shaibah, 25 miles south of the city.

Starting 2006, Camp Abu Naji and the Shaibah logistics base will be the only locations occupied by British troops.

The British Prime Minister Tony Blair has repeatedly stated that the British troops will stay in Iraq till members of the Iraqi defence are ready to take control of their country’s security.

About 1,300 troops, will also remain on high readiness in Cyprus.

A senior Army officer said: "Iraq remains a side issue in the war against terrorism although the rise of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's organisation has given Islamic militants a new front. The real war against terror still needs to be won in Afghanistan, where the leaders of Al Qaeda and the Taliban are still hiding. Their death or capture will be a decisive blow."

"Troop numbers in Iraq are continually kept under review and we will remain in Iraq at the request of the Iraqi authorities to provide security assistance for the Iraqi forces. We are not going to speculate on future troop levels and timescales," a Ministry of Defence spokesman said yesterday.

  Today's Top News     Top World News

'Murdered' wife lives, proves husband's innocence



Ma Ying-jeou seeks chairmanship of KMT



Vice-governor gets 12 years for taking bribes



Guessing game in battle for papal succession



Gov't urges increased mine safety spending



Kuwait seeks strong oil ties with China


  Guessing game in battle for papal succession
  Iraqis tap Sunni for parliament speaker
  Sudan rejects U.N. resolution on Darfur
  All Syrian forces to leave Lebanon by April 30
  Abbas moves to challenge militant groups
  Al Qaeda says 7 suicide bombers struck Iraqi prison
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Related Stories  
Al Qaeda says 7 suicide bombers struck Iraqi prison
Iraqis tap Sunni for parliament speaker
Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison attacked; 57 hurt
  News Talk  
  Are the Republicans exploiting the memory of 9/11?