Britain now has 4,500 troops in Iraq, less than a tenth of the force that in 2003 Tony Blair, the then-prime minister, dispatched to help topple Saddam Hussein.
|Brown has said he would scale down British troop strength in Iraq [AFP]|
Gordon Brown, Blair's successor, has said the force will shrink to just 2,500 by mid-2008.
British forces began handing over the southern provinces last year but suffered ever deadlier attacks as they withdrew.
Of the 134 British service members killed by enemy action in Iraq, more than 30 died in a four-month period from April-July this year after Blair announced plans to withdraw from Basra.
British troops have been in Basra province since April 2003, when 40,000 soldiers were deployed as part of the US-led invasion of Iraq.