'Rapid' Iraq Withdrawal From May

Gordon Brown has confirmed there will be a 'rapid withdrawal' of UK forces from Iraq from the end of May next year.

Speaking in the Commons, the Prime Minister said the number of British soldiers stationed in the country would fall from 4,100 to 400.

Mr Brown said the last of combat troops could be out of Iraq by the end of July.

Addressing MPs, Mr Brown said: "In the last five and half years Iraq has faced great challenges and endured dark days. But it has also made very significant progress.

"We can be proud of the way our forces carried out their mission in the most difficult time and proud of what they accomplished."

However, the Prime Minister said Iraq still had many challenges to face, with no easy road ahead.

"But today's levels of violence across the whole of Iraq are at their lowest for five years, economic growth this year is almost 10%," said Mr Brown.

Provincial elections are due to take place in the region early next year, with around 1,270 candidates already selected.

Mr Brown said British forces had endured "great hardship and sacrifice".

A memorial wall erected in Basra to commemorate the 178 service personnel who lost their lives will be brought back to Britain and relocated at a "fitting resting place".

"We will do so when at the end of July the last of our combat troops leave Basra - a memorial now forever to be in Britain," added the Prime Minister.


Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

12 October 2007
Queen Unveils Memorial To Troops
The Queen has unveiled a new memorial to honour the thousands of British Armed Forces who have been killed in conflict since the end of World War II.
28 August 2007
Brown - No Timetable On Iraq Withdrawal
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has ruled out setting a timetable for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, because he said that they still had "an important job to do". In a letter to Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said that they military still had "clear obligations to discharge".
08 June 2007
Brown told 'bring them home'
The mother of a British Soldier killed in Iraq has urged Gordon Brown to withdraw troops from Iraq when he becomes prime minister. Rose Gentle's son Gordon was killed in Iraq in 2004 while serving with the Royal Highland Fusiliers. Ms Gentle said that she was sickened to learn that the 150th British soldier had been killed in Iraq.
19 July 2004
British soldier dies in Basrah helicopter crash
A British soldier has died after an RAF helicopter crashed in southern Iraq today. The MoD confirmed that the soldier was killed in "an accident" involving an RAF Puma helicopter at Basrah International Airport. Two other British military personnel were injured during the incident.
20 January 2010
PM Will Face Iraq Inquiry 'Any Time'
Gordon Brown today insisted he is 'happy' to appear before the Iraq inquiry prior to the General Election. The Prime minister has written to the panel, chaired by Sir John Chilcot, to assure them he would appear "at any time".