Date set for Basra handover

British troops to transfer control of southern province to Iraqi forces on Sunday.

    Gordon Brown is confident that southern Iraq is substantially secure [AFP]

    Al-Dabbagh said the handover was decided because Iraqi forces were ready to take control of Basra.

    He said: "Our security forces are at a good level" and Iraq's forces can manage "security in the province".

    On December 9, Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, made a surprise visit to Basra and said the handover would take place in two weeks, on recommendation from Nuri al-Maliki, his Iraqi counterpart. 

    Britain has about 5,500 troops in southern Iraq, and Brown said in October that troop numbers would be cut by more than half to 2,500 by early next year as Iraqis assume control of Basra province.

    Failed mission

    About 500 British troops handed over their base at the Saddam-era Basra Palace in September after Iraqi security forces took control of the city, and they are now all stationed on an airbase just outside the city.

    Your Views

    "The Iraqi people will lose if we abandon them before the Iraqi government is

    able to stand on its own."

    surfdog1958, Baton Rouge, USA


    Send us your views

    However, a British parliamentary committee, said recently that the country had failed in its original aim of bringing security to southern Iraq, and expressed concern about continued violence in the south and across the country.

    The House of Commons defence committee said: "The initial goal of UK forces in southeastern Iraq was to establish the security necessary for the development of representative political institutions and for economic reconstruction." 

    "Although progress has been made, this goal remains unfulfilled."

    According to defence ministry figures, 173 British troops have been killed in Iraq since the US-led invasion of the country in March 2003, 

    After the handover, the British troops are expected to provide specialist back-up to the Iraqi security forces, such as patrolling Iraq's border with Iran.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Explore how your country voted on global issues since 1946, as the world gears up for the 74th UN General Assembly.

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.