Britain could hand back Basra 'in nine to 12 months'

August 22nd, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Britain could hand back Basra 'in nine to 12 months'

Media: AFP
Byline: N/A
Date: 22 August 2006

LONDON, Aug 22, 2006 (AFP) - British forces in Iraq could hand over
responsibility for security in Basra province to the Baghdad government
within as little as nine months, a senior British military commander said

Speaking to reporters in London on condition of anonymity, the commander
said that from a military point of view, a full handover of the southern
province was "feasible" within nine to 12 months.

He also said British forces -- concentrated in southern Iraq since the
US-led invasion in March 2003 -- could be cut from their current level of
7,000 troops to between 3,000 to 4,000 by the middle of next year.

However, any handover would depend on the security situation in Iraq, and on
an agreement with the Iraqi government.

"There are rogue elements linked to people committing illicit killings, some
of them alarmingly close to the government structure," the commander said.

Even after a handover of security duties, the commander added, Britain can
be expected to maintain a presence in Iraq, probably in the form of one or
two bases around Basra city.

"We anticipate there is not going to be a political appetite to say 'job
done' while there is still unfinished business in the centre of the
country," the commander said.

"We started this as a coalition (with the United States) and we need to
protect our investment."

Britain has already handed back responsibility for security in southern
Al-Muthanna province to the Iraqi government, and an announcement on Dhi Kar
province could come as early as this week.

British troops are meanwhile in the process of pulling out of their main
base in Maysan province, where forces will be concentrating on patrolling
the border with Iran.
August 23rd, 2006  
Get 'er done.
August 23rd, 2006  
They could have done it months ago but they havent been tough on insurgents and the Iranian regime cronies in south of Iraq. They'll leave a vacuum if they do so now

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