Britain to Withdraw Troops From Iraq by June

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2008 7:53 PM CST
An Iraqi army soldier, with an Iraqi flag draped around his shoulders, walks past a British soldier at Basra airport.   (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)
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(Newser) – British troops will begin withdrawing their 4,000 troops from Iraq in March and will have all but a few hundred out by the end of June, the Guardian reports. They will be replaced at their base in Basra not by Iraqis but by Americans, who are worried about keeping supply routes safe from Kuwait. The withdrawal will effectively end Britain's six-year mission in southern Iraq.

"It'll be very gradual, and then a fairly steep reduction," said one British defense official of the withdrawal. The few hundred British soldiers who remain will not see combat—they will set up military training schools for Iraqis. Gordon Brown is expected to make the decision official early next year.