Britain is planning to keep its forces in Iraq for five more years, a British defense planning document seen by the UK media shows.
The Telegraph (UK) obtained parts of a confidential planning document known as the Operational Tour Plot, prepared by high-level British defense officials plan for British forces to remain In Iraq until 2012.
British forces have operated in four provinces in southern Iraq. Two are already handed over to Iraqi security forces and two are due to be handed over.
A British base in Basra’s Shatt al-Arab hotel was handed over to the Iraqi security forces Sunday.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said earlier that British troops would remain in Iraq for two more years.
“The UK military presence will continue into 2008,” the PM told the House of Commons in February.
Nearly 100,000 of 180,000 members of the UK’s armed forces have rotated into Iraq since 2003. 140 UK soldiers have been killed in the war.
Senior commanders also told the Telegraph that the British troop commitment in Afghanistan is also set to rise in the next two years.
Preparations are complete to hand the Maysan Province security file over to Iraq, Aswat al-Iraq reports in Arabic.
The governor of Maysan Province, 'Adil Mahwadar Radi, announced Monday that “We have completed all the preparations and protocols,” adding that the date of the handover had not been announced “for security considerations.”
“We also have communications with the British forces,” Radi also said, adding that a memo of understanding would be signed between the two, establishing the “freedom of British forces to move in the province and the frameworks of corporation between the two sides”
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced recently that the Maysan handover was in the works.
Maysan province would be the third southern province in which security responsibilities have been handed over to Iraqi forces, after Muthanna and Dhi Qar provinces.
Korean Forces to set withdrawal date in June
During a question-and-answer session at the Korean National Assembly, Kim told the body, ""We are trying to submit the plan on terminating the mission of the troops in Iraq by the end of June."
South Korea presently has 1,600 soldiers in northern Iraq, set to be reduced to 1,200 this month.
Polish Forces change rules of engagement
Polish forces in Iraq have been permitted to return fire, Bloomberg reports.
In an interview on Poland’s TVN24, Polish DM Aleksander Szczyglo said, “It was humiliating for them that they were shot at and weren't able to return fire,'” adding, “Now everyone knows that if someone shoots at a Polish soldier, the Polish soldier will shoot at them too -- and that's how things should be,” the agency reported Friday.
Earlier last week, Polish President Lech Kaczynsi said that “it might be necessary to change the nature'' of Poland's mission in Iraq,” to use Polish troops for more offensive purposes, rather than the training operations they have been pursuing.
The Polish base in Diwaniya has come under more frequent attack recently.
The country announced in December that it would extend its deployment in Iraq until the end of 2007.
Polish forces have been participating in recent operations in Diwaniya, where their military presence in Iraq is based, Bloomberg reports.