British Defence Minister Geoff Hoon has announced UK troops in Iraq will be redeployed to more dangerous areas of the country after Washington asked for help. He said the move presented a “militarily acceptable level of risk” and was vital to establishing security ahead of Iraqi elections. Around 850 soldiers will move north to patrol volatile areas west of Baghdad, currently held by American forces.
The 8,500-strong British force has until now been based in the relatively peaceful region of Basra. Washington asked for assistance as it prepares an all-out assault on militant strongholds around Fallujah. The request brought criticism from Prime Minister Tony Blair’s own Labour Party, with some members arguing it was more aimed at helping US President George W Bush’s election chances than bringing stability to Iraq.