Defence Secretary Des Browne said in comments published in the British press on Wednesday that Britain was “on course” to hand over a base in the southern Iraqi city of Basra next month.
Browne also said that a further 500 soldiers would probably be withdrawn from Iraq, on top of the government’s commitment to bring back 1,600 troops from the war-torn country, leaving about 5,000 there.
According to The Guardian, he did not, however, describe the move as a certainty, preferring the term “probability”.
He also said: “I do not believe we will have 5,000 troops in Iraq and 7,000 in Afghanistan in five years.”
In quotes published in The Daily Telegraph, Browne added that it ”is not our intention to sustain that level of two medium size operations indefinitely.”
He said that if Britain “were seeking to sustain this operational tempo indefinitely then we are in danger of degrading our forces.”
Browne claimed that Iran was “using proxies” in southern Iraq in an attempt to drive Britain out of the country.
Britain currently has about 7,100 soldiers deployed in Iraq, most of whom are in Basra and surrounding areas. Some 150 British troops have been killed in Iraq since the March 2003 US-led invasion.
Last Mod: 13 Haziran 2007, 11:02