It looks like being a last Christmas for British troops in Iraq. Media reports, quoting an unnamed senior UK defence source, say British forces will begin pulling out in March 2009, six years after the US-led invasion. American soldiers are apparently set to replace the British and move into their base at the airport on the outskirts of Basra. The reports say UK special forces units based in Baghdad would also be withdrawn, leaving only 400 British personnel in Iraq by the middle of next year.
The timing is said to depend on security conditions. Britain currently has more than 4,000 troops in Iraq. Pulling most of them out out should free up resources and military personnel for the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.