LONDON, June 2 (Xinhuanet) -- British troops in
southern Iraq are expected to hand over control of security to local Iraqi
defense and police forces within a year, British newspaper Financial Times
quoted a senior British police officer as reporting on Thursday.
"I would expect that within the
next six to nine months in certain areas under British military control, the day
to day running of security will be handed over entirely to the Iraqis," said
Paul Kernaghan, the British police force's spokesman on international affairs.
According to the report, Kernaghan was speaking fresh
from an inspection of British police who are training Iraqi police and defense
forces and acting as security advisers in southern Iraq.
The Ministry of Defense is drafting a plan for the
deployment of extra British troops to Afghanistan, with the suggestion that this
will involve a reduction in the British troops in Iraq, the report said.
According to other security sources, the withdrawal
is for a two-phase program of British demilitarization in the southern areaof
Iraq, the report said.
Under a first phase, which is expected to be under
way in March,2006, British troops will withdraw to main army bases from
frontaloperational duties, with the capacity to offer support to Iraqi police
and defense forces if necessary.
A second phase will involve a phased withdrawal of
British troops from Iraq, although a final decision on this has yet to be taken,
and will depend on what progress is made in stabilizing security.
Britain, a staunch US ally on Iraq, is now
positioning about 9,000 troops in Iraq. Enditem