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Britain to reduce military presence in Gulf

Some British naval and air forces will soon leave the Gulf region after completing their missions in Iraq, with the first four planes coming on Friday.

india Updated: Apr 11, 2003 20:13 IST
AP
AP
PTI

Some British naval and air forces will soon leave the Gulf region after completing their missions in Iraq, with the first four planes coming home on Friday, British officials said.

The Ministry of Defense said four Tornado F3 fighter jets would fly back to Scotland later Friday, but didn't give a time scale for the other redeployments.

"Some air assets and some of our fleet will be returning," Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram told British Broadcasting Corp. television. "They've done their job. Their job is complete."

"But our commitment to Iraq remains 100 percent. And we still have a very sizable deployment of active people out there. This is by no means the beginning of a full-scale reduction."

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said in a written statement to lawmakers that planes, helicopters and ships, including Britain's flagship aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, would shortly withdraw from the Gulf region.

Britain sent some 45,000 members of its armed forces to the Gulf. Many British troops are now engaged in restoring order to Iraq's second city, Basra, the scene of mass looting in recent days.

Ingram said the withdrawal of navy and air personnel wouldn't affect British efforts to maintain public order.

"It's not their job to be on the streets to deal with all of this," he said. "We recognize the problems associated with civil disorder and looting, but there's nothing unusual in this."

First Published: Apr 11, 2003 20:13 IST