UK battle group arrives safely at south Baghdad base

The British force moving up to Baghdad to reinforce US troops in the area has arrived safely at its new base.

The 850-strong battle group, consisting of armoured infantry from the 1st Battalion The Black Watch, a Queen's Dragoon Guards armoured reconnaissance unit, and elements of 40 Commando Royal Marines, left its position in Basra earlier this week.

Supporting specialists from across the army, including the Royal Engineers, Royal Logistic Corps, Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers, and Royal Military Police have also joined in the redeployment.

The troops will not, however, come under the aegis of US commanders, and the operational command of soldiers remains with General Rollo, the UK's commanding officer in the region.

The total deployment force will "operate at all times" under UK rules of engagement. The duration of the deployment will be "weeks rather than months", it was announced.

However, there is speculation in the media that a second Scottish regiment, the Scots Guards, will be called in to relieve the Black Watch in December. Downing Street has said there are currently no plans drawn up for such a move.

The Defence Secretary confirmed in the House of Commons last week that he had acceded to a US request for British troops to be sent to south west Baghdad to relieve its forces in the area.

There are currently around 8,500 British troops stationed in Iraq.


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