UK sending more troops to train Iraqi forces
IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency
London, May 25, IRNA
Britain's military presence in Iraq is to be strengthened to step up the training of the country's local security forces, Defense Secretary John Reid announced Wednesday.
The increase of some 400 more troops to 8,500 is to take place as part of a routine rotation of British military personnel stationed in southern Iraq.
"The reason for this small increase is in order to allow greater effort to be put into the training, development and mentoring of the Iraqi security forces," Reid said in a written parliamentary statement.
"This will enable them to take on ever greater responsibility for their own security and so pave the way for UK troops to withdraw," he said.
The deployment is the first announced by the new defense secretary since replacing Geoff Hoon three weeks ago. It comes after he paid his first visit to British troop headquarters in Basra last week.
On Tuesday, the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London warned that it could take at least five years before Iraqi forces are strong enough to impose law and order on the country.
In its latest annual Strategic Survey, it also suggested that Iraq 'could serve as a valuable proving ground for 'blooding' foreign jihadists, and could conceivably form the basis of a second generation of capable al-Qaeda leaders'.
::IRNA No.072 25/05/2005 19:51 --End
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