Sunday, April 08, 2007

Five more years in Iraq, say defence papers

Sean Rayment
London Telegraph
Sunday April 8, 2007

Britain's "overstretched" armed forces will fight in Iraq for at least another five years.

A confidential planning document drawn up by defence chiefs called the Operational Tour Plot, parts of which have been disclosed to this newspaper, reveals that troops will be serving on operations in the Gulf until at least 2012.

News of the future operations can be revealed just three days after four soldiers, two of them women, were killed in a carefully planned ambush in Basra, taking the British forces death toll in Iraq to 140.

Almost 100,000 of the 180,000 members of the country's armed services have now served in Iraq since the war began in March 2003.

Two of the four provinces in southern Iraq are now under the control of official Iraqi forces. Maysan province is due to be handed over later this month and the Iraqi military should take official control of Basra province later this summer. But British troops will remain for at least another five years, the government documents reveal.

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