British troops have completed their pullout from within Basra. The withdrawal from Basra palace marks the end of the UK’s presence inside the southern city. The 550 soldiers are joining the remaining 5,000 troops at the last British base near the Airport.
Although Iraqi forces have taken over the palace, British forces will retain overall security for Basra until the expected handover to provincial control later this year: The move has been welcomed by many Basra residents who say Iraqi security troops are carrying out their duties well. The pullout will leave Basra without British troops for the first time since the US-led invasion four years ago.
Downing Street says the move is part of an ongoing process and may not necessarily lead to an overall reduction in British troop numbers in Iraq.