Troops could be withdrawn from Iraq, hints Straw

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw hinted today that some British troops could be withdrawn from Iraq before the end of the year.

He said he expected “good news” from talks with Iraqi officials on handing over control of some regions to home-grown.forces.

Speaking as vigils were being held to mark the death toll suffered by British armed forces in Iraq reaching 100, he also insisted none had died “in vain”.

Mr Straw rejected calls for a timetable to be set for withdrawal but told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that progress was being made.

He said: “We cannot publish today a timescale saying we are going to leave on this date, but what we can and are doing is in active discussions about how we draw down our troops on a province-by-province basis as we and the Iraqi government are convinced it is safe for them and for us to do so.

“And I think we will see, over the next 12 months, some good news in that respect and that will be a further mark of the worthwhile, very profoundly important job that all servicemen and women have done in Iraq to free and to create a better Iraq.”

Every death of those serving the armed forces in Iraq or elsewhere was “terrible”, he said.

“We grieve for them. But … these brave young men and women who have lost their lives in Iraq have not died in vain.

“I have watched that country move from being an awful, almost perpetual, tyranny under Saddam through to a country which has had three democratic elections in the last year, which is now in the process of forming a genuinely democratic and broad-based government for the first time ever in its history.

“That is an astonishing achievement for the Iraqis in which British servicemen and women, and others from around the world ... have played a major part.”

More on this topic

Millions of people make journey to Iraqi city for pilgrimage of ArbaeenMillions of people make journey to Iraqi city for pilgrimage of Arbaeen

Deadly protests continue in Iraqi capitalDeadly protests continue in Iraqi capital

Death toll in Iraq anti-government protests rises above 100Death toll in Iraq anti-government protests rises above 100

Several killed as security forces fire on protesters in IraqSeveral killed as security forces fire on protesters in Iraq

More in this Section

Brexit delay still possible, Tusk tells UK MPs preparing to vote on Johnson’s dealBrexit delay still possible, Tusk tells UK MPs preparing to vote on Johnson’s deal

US troops leaving Syria ‘cannot stay in Iraq’US troops leaving Syria ‘cannot stay in Iraq’

Trudeau wins second term as Canadian prime ministerTrudeau wins second term as Canadian prime minister

Police sending officers to US to interview suspect in Harry Dunn deathPolice sending officers to US to interview suspect in Harry Dunn death


Lifestyle

A scientific study has found that the teatime treat is just as effective as shop-bought energy gels.You might want to swap your energy gels for mashed potato on your next run

We catch up with Bushmills’ master distiller, who tells Sam Wylie-Harris more about this liquid gold.Irish whiskey masterclass: 11 things you need to know

Temples, beaches, and several nations with new names.From Bhutan to Costa Rica, Lonely Planet reveals its top countries to visit in 2020

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers guidance to a woman who’s unsure how to manage her mother’s dying wishes.Ask a counsellor: ‘Is it appropriate to notify my mother’s friends of her death by email?’

More From The Irish Examiner