Good news. Makes sense with the closure of BP. http://news.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30200-1283303,00.html UK Withdrawing 500 Troops From Iraq Updated: 15:17, Saturday September 08, 2007 Britain is withdrawing 500 troops from Iraq as part of its planned reduction in forces as Iraqis assume control of their own security in the south of the country. The announcement comes six days after 500 UK troops pulled back from the Basra Palace base to an airfield outside the city. UK troops leaving Basra PalaceThe first combat unit, the Kings Royal Hussars Battle Group, which has about 250 members, was told it would return to Britain over the next four weeks. The other 250 troops would be withdrawn in the coming months as part of ongoing reviews, according to the Ministry of Defence. An MoD statement said: "This reduction has been our stated aim for a long period, and there has not been any change in our policy with respect to our support for the Iraqi forces." The withdrawals will reduce the British force in Iraq to 5,000, most based around Basra, Iraq's second-largest city. Calm has largely prevailed in the predominantly Shi'ite city of about two million since the British soldiers pulled back to the airport, ceding responsibility to Iraqi security forces. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair paved the way for the move in February, when he announced a cut in Britain's commitment in Iraq from 7,100 to 5,500, adding that the force level could drop below 5,000 once the Iraqis had taken control of the palace base. An MoD spokesman said the MoD was implementing "plans for reducing force numbers in Basra to approximately 5,000 now that Basra Palace has been handed over to the Iraqi authorities, as per our long-standing plan". He added: "This morning, the Kings Royal Hussars Battle Group - approximately 250 men - were told that as part of these reductions, their tour is being cut short and they will return to the UK over the course of the next four weeks. "The remaining reductions will be achieved in the coming months as part of ongoing manpower reviews. Achieving these reductions has long been our stated aim."