Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon told parliament on Thursday that the UK will have around 8900 occupation soldiers in Iraq by the end of the month.

"As the House is aware, we keep the number and composition of UK forces in multinational divisions... under constant review," he added, ending weeks of speculation of a rise in British troop numbers in Iraq.

The increase in troop strength was much smaller than expected, with one British newspaper predicting at least 3000 more troops to be sent to the war-torn country.

According to military analysts including Christopher Langton at London's International Institute for Strategic Studies, the US and Britain need to send at least half a million soldiers if they wish to put down all resistance in Iraq.