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UPDATED: 12:57, January 11, 2007
Britain to withdraw nearly 3,000 troops from Iraq by May: newspaper
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Some 2,700 British soldiers will go back home from Iraq by the end of May, bringing the British military presence down to 4,500, The Daily Telegraph reported on Thursday, citing a precise timetable for the withdrawal disclosed to the newspaper.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair will announce the decision "within the next fortnight," in a bid to let the overstretched troops recover from four years of battle, said the report.

The news broke at a time when U.S. President George W. Bush has just announced that he will expand the U.S. military presence in Iraq by about21,500 troops.

The prime minister's office and the Ministry of Defence dismissed the story as speculation.

The withdrawal would be "conditions based," said a defence ministry spokesman.

"We would like to reduce our force levels as the Iraqis increase their ability to provide security for their own country," he added.

The British government, Washington's staunchest ally in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, stations the second largest number of troops, following the United States, in the battered country.

Source: Xinhua

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