Scotish Sunday Herald 500 more Scots destined for renewed assault on Taliban By John Bynorth Soldiers expected to be deployed by summer DEFENCE SECRETARY Des Browne is expected to announce early in the New Year that 500 extra Scottish troops will be sent to Afghanistan. Although the Ministry of Defence could not yesterday officially confirm exact details or the regiment involved, the soldiers are expected to be deployed in the summer. The news follows prime minister Gordon Brown's announcement last week that £450 million in additional aid will be spent over the next three years to help eliminate the Taliban, including 7800 troops. Brown also promised more armoured vehicles, helicopters and training for 70,000 Afghan soldiers. Last week a Nato conference in Edinburgh discussed the issue and Brown called for the UK's renewed contribution to be matched by other countries. The US defence secretary, Robert Gates, has criticised the "inability" of some allies to "step up to the plate" in the war-torn country. However, Denmark, France, Holland and Estonia have recently pledged to increase their troop numbers and Brown said he was confident other Nato members would do the same. The prime minister showed his support for the forces there on a brief trip to Kabul a week ago, at the precise time that a battle was raging as Afghan and British forces fought for control of the Taliban stronghold of Musa Qala, in the north of Helmand province. During the visit Brown promised that the UK would contribute more resources to support schools, develop healthcare facilities and set up small businesses. A Ministry of Defence spokesman was unable to confirm the Scottish deployment and added that any such announcement would be made first in the House of Commons. Meanwhile, in Iraq, British-trained members of the Iraq Army's new 14th Division will from today be responsible for keeping the peace in the southern areas of the country. The 14th Division is already on the ground in Basra four-and-a-half years after British troops entered the city during the US-led invasion. UK soldiers pulled out of the city itself in September, handing their last base over to Iraqi control and moving to the airport. But from today, when British forces formally hand over control of security in Basra Province, it will be up to Iraqi troops to control insurgents in the country's most economically important area. "It is very good because in this way we can put our hands on Basra city," Private Allah Kazem of the 14th Division said. "We know how to deal with the people in Basra because all of us, we are Iraqi. We can stop them when we want, we understand each other." Kazem was among members of the Third Battalion, First Brigade, of the 14th Division being trained by British instructors at the Shaibah camp north of the city. Built as an RAF airfield in the 1920s, Shaibah is one of several former British-used bases to be handed over to the Iraqis in recent months. But some British troops are still present there, concentrating on training rather than warfare. An average of 250 serving Iraqi soldiers a month now pass through training programmes under the watchful eye of instructors from the Royal Scots Borders (First Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland). "They are very good, and that is not just a compliment," said Private Farhan Mokief, who has been in the Iraqi army since just after it was re-formed four-and-a-half years ago. He and his colleagues have been on patrol in the city since September when British forces handed over the Basra Palace base, which had become a focus for insurgent attacks, to their Iraqi counterparts. "It has changed for the better, and the people go back to their homes feeling safe," Kazem said. Lieutenant Colonel Robert Bruce, commanding officer of the Royal Scots Borders, said: "There is a tremendous amount of talent in the Iraqi Army, they have a very proud martial tradition."