UK ends troop presence in Iraq after 6 years | world | Hindustan Times
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UK ends troop presence in Iraq after 6 years

world Updated: Jul 31, 2009 15:49 IST

Britain ended its troop presence in Iraq on Friday, concluding six years of military involvement in the country that began with the US-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.

Under a deal between Baghdad and London signed last year, the last of Britain’s forces, which had totalled as many as 46,000 in 2003, left this week, a spokesman for the British Embassy in Baghdad told AFP.

A small contingent of naval trainers currently de-camped in Kuwait could return once Iraq’s parliament has considered a new agreement between London and Baghdad. Parliament will reconvene in September.

Most of Britain’s troops were based in the predominantly Shiite southern port city of Basra.

Under then-prime minister Tony Blair, Britain was a key ally of the United States when president George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 to topple Saddam.

London’s troop numbers in the campaign were the second largest, peaking at 46,000 in March and April 2003 at the height of combat operations that resulted in the dictator’s overthrow and eventual execution for crimes against humanity.

Baghdad and London signed a deal last year that said all British soldiers in Iraq would complete their mission, which in recent months focused on training the Iraqi army, by June, before withdrawing completely by the end of July.