Yahoo! News - UK

UK May Send Troops to Baghdad


LONDON (Reuters) - British troops could be moved to Baghdad to cover for U.S. soldiers battling insurgents in the rebel-held city of Falluja and elsewhere in Iraq (news - web sites), British media reported on Saturday.

The deployment to the Iraqi capital would be the first time British troops have operated outside the relatively quiet Basra area of southern Iraq.

Up to 650 troops would be involved in the move, which would be meant to last for just a few weeks, the BBC said.

A Ministry of Defense spokesman in London said no decision had been made.

The Times newspaper said officers from Britain's Black Watch regiment, currently serving in Basra, had told their troops about a possible move to Baghdad.

Nicholas Soames, defense spokesman for the opposition Conservative Party, demanded more clarity from the Ministry of Defense on the role of British troops in Iraq.

If British soldiers did more in Iraq they should take a bigger role in planning operations and there must be careful coordination with U.S. forces, he said.

"The rules of engagement would have to be very clear because they may well be different to that which the regiment will have used in Basra," he told BBC radio.

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