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UK withdrawing 500 troops from Iraq

By Xinhua

London : The British Defense Ministry announced on Saturday that 500 British troops are being withdrawn from Iraq as part of its planned reduction in forces as Iraqis assume control of their own security in the south of the country.

The first combat unit, the Kings Royal Hussars Battle Group, which has about 250 members, will return to Britain over the next four weeks, according to a statement released by the Defense Ministry. The other 250 troops will be withdrawn in the coming months as part of ongoing reviews.

The Defense Ministry said "This reduction has been our stated aim for a long period, and there has not been any change in our policy with respect to our support for the Iraqi forces.

The withdrawals will reduce the British force in Iraq to 5,000,mostly based around Basra, Iraq’s second-large city.

The announcement comes six days after 500 British troops pulled back from the Basra Palace base to an airfield outside the city.