http://www.newsletter.co.uk/story/16816 Send Ulster Soldiers To Iraq, PM Told By Ian Starrett Monday 29th November 2004 Thousands of troops could be withdrawn from Northern Ireland and sent to Iraq within weeks, it emerged yesterday. Prime Minister Tony Blair has been urged by military chiefs to redeploy the soldiers to Iraq to reinforce British Army units already there in the run-up to the scheduled January 30 elections in the troubled country. There are presently 11,000 troops in Northern Ireland: the 39th Brigade is based in Belfast and the 8th Brigade at Ballykelly, Co Londonderry. A Ministry of Defence source said yesterday: "Our soldiers there are broadly under-occupied and we continue, and will continue, to withdraw them because we would rather use them in other places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. "This is not a contentious thing in Northern Ireland and we will continue the process until a state of normality is reached." Mr Blair is coming under pressure to step up these moves from military chiefs who are claiming that the war against the IRA in Northern Ireland is over and the soldiers are now more needed elsewhere. One senior MoD source said yesterday: "The indicators are that given 9/11 the IRA are not going to revert to terrorism. "There is no popular support for that sort of activity either within Ireland and certainly not within America." There were also indications yesterday that the moving of thousands of troops from Northern Ireland to the Iraqi front line could be accelerated if an historic deal is struck later this week between the DUP and Sinn Fein on IRA decommissioning and devolved government.