As the war dead were honoured by British forces in Basra, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said UK troops could leave by the end of next year. Britain has so far declined to set a timetable for a pullout. But its Defence Minister John Reid confirmed today that a withdrawal could begin in 2006.
At a ceremony in London led by Queen Elizabeth, the 97 British troops who have died in Iraq were among those remembered. Under relentless pressure over the Iraq war, Prime Minister Tony Blair also paid his tributes – at an annual event to honour all servicemen and women who have given their lives for their country. The service came amid reports that the Queen has become a target for al-Qaeda. A Sunday newspaper said that in a video message after July’s deadly bombings in London, she was called “one of the severest enemies of Islam” by Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama Bin Laden’s second-in-command.