Britain to withdraw most troops from Iraq starting in March

December 10, 2008

BAGHDAD (ChattahBox) — Britain announced Wednesday it will withdraw all but a handful of its 4,100 soldiers from Iraq next year. The withdrawl will begin in March on a timetable that will aim to leave only a small training force of 300 to 400 by June, ending a mission that was unpopular at home and failed to curb the rise of Iranian-backed Shiite militias in the south.

The British announcement, which was expected, signals a conclusion to the role of the second biggest troop contributor to the multinational coalition after the United States. More than 45,000 British troops took part in the March 2003 invasion that overthrew Saddam Hussein. Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s determination to withdraw Britain’s Iraq contingent ahead of a general election that must be held by June 2010 has led to months of edgy negotiations with the Bush administration. The British withdrawal plan appeared to have been prompted, at least in part, by President-elect Barack Obama’s triumph in the election last month.

The decision comes as the United States is weighing a drawdown in its nearly 150,000-strong force. President-elect Barack Obama has called for withdrawing all combat troops from Iraq by the spring of 2010, shifting responsibility to the Iraqis for the defense of the country against Sunni and Shiite extremists. A U.S. brigade will deploy to the south to train Iraqi soldiers and secure vital supply lines from Kuwait, the newspaper said.

The British have not confirmed whether they will now send more soldiers to Afghanistan. Military commanders have warned that British troops are overstretched from commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, where Britain has some 7,800 soldiers.


One Response to “Britain to withdraw most troops from Iraq starting in March”

  1. Multinational Corporations » Blog Archive » Britain to withdraw most troops from Iraq starting in March - on December 10th, 2008 10:26 pm

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