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2/20/2007 - Reports: UK to begin withdrawing Iraq troops

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  • 2/20/2007 - Reports: UK to begin withdrawing Iraq troops

    LONDON, England (CNN) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair will order nearly half the British troops in Iraq home by the end of 2007, British news outlets reported early Wednesday.

    The British Broadcasting Corporation and The Sun newspaper said Blair will tell the House of Commons on Wednesday that 1,500 soldiers will be back in Britain within weeks and that 3,000 of Britain's contingent of 7,000 will be back by the end of the year. (Watch how Blair told President Bush of the UK's plansVideo)

    "Control of the south of the country, unaffected by the civil war raging around Baghdad, will be handed back to the Iraqis," the tabloid Sun reported.

    The move comes as the United States is sending more troops into Iraq in an effort to put down a wave of sectarian violence in Baghdad and pacify the western province of Anbar, the heart of the Sunni Arab insurgency.

    In Washington, National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said President Bush has been grateful for British support "in the past and into the future."

    "While the United Kingdom is maintaining a robust force in southern Iraq, we're pleased that conditions in Basra have improved sufficiently that they are able to transition more control to the Iraqis," Johndroe said in a statement issued Tuesday evening. "The United States shares the same goal of turning responsibility over to the Iraqi Security Forces and reducing the number of American troops in Iraq."

    In November, Defense Secretary Des Browne said Britain planned to bring several thousand troops home from Iraq by the end of 2007, but he gave no specific numbers. The remaining troops would be used to train Iraqi military and police forces, provide backup for Iraqi troops and protect supply lines for British, U.S. and allied troops who remained.

    But Blair said last month that an "arbitrary timetable" for withdrawal "would send the most disastrous signal to the people we are fighting in Iraq."

    Britain contributed about 46,000 soldiers, sailors and air force personnel to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. More than half of those troops were withdrawn within two months of the invasion, and the remaining contingent, now numbering about 7,000, was based mostly in the southern city of Basra.

    The war has claimed more than 130 British lives and has never been popular with the British public. In January, as the United States announced plans to increase its contingent in Iraq by more than 20,000, British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said London would not be following suit.

    Opposition to the war has hurt Blair politically, with his ruling Labor Party losing seats in Parliament and in local elections in the past two years. The prime minister announced in September that he would leave office within a year.

    Report of the withdrawal comes three days after reports that Prince Harry would deploy with his unit to Iraq in April or May. (Full story)

    His father, Prince Charles, was a pilot with the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. Harry's grandfather, Prince Philip, had a distinguished career in the Royal Navy. Harry's uncle, Prince Andrew, was a Royal Navy pilot and served in the Falklands War against Argentina 25 years ago.



    Find this article at:
    http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/...ops/index.html

  • #2
    yeah saw the breaking news on msnbc like an hour ago. Not makein Bush look any better believe it or not its only gettin worse for him ha

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