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UPDATED: 11:14, October 13, 2006
British troops exacerbate security problems in Iraq: army head
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Britain should withdraw its troops from Iraq as their continued presence only exacerbates the country's security problems, Britain's top army commander said in an interview published on Friday.

In an interview for Friday's edition of the Daily Mail newspaper, published on its website, General Sir Richard Dannatt said Britain's Iraq venture was aggravating the security threat elsewhere in the world.

"I don't say the difficulties we are experiencing round the world are caused by our presence in Iraq but undoubtedly our presence in Iraq exacerbates them," he said.

Dannatt, who took over as chief of the General Staff in August, described Prime Minister Tony Blair's policies as "naive," saying that while Iraqis might have welcomed coalition forces following the ouster of Saddam Hussein, the good will has evaporated in years of constant attacks.

"Our presence exacerbates the security problems," he said. "Whatever consent we may have had in the first place ... has largely turned to intolerance."

Britain has 7,200 troops in southern Iraq patrolling an area around Basra, a bastion of Shiite militias. A total of 119 British troops have been killed in Iraq since the country joined the U.S.-led invasion three years ago.

"We are in a Muslim country and Muslims' views of foreigners in their country are quite clear," Dannatt said. "As a foreigner, you can be welcomed by being invited in a country, but we weren't invited certainly by those in Iraq at the time."

Source: Xinhua

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