650 more British troops for Iraq
By Jason Beattie Political Correspondent, Evening Standard
10 January 2005
Hundreds more British soldiers are to be sent to Iraq to strengthen security ahead of the elections at the end of this month.
Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon is expected to tell the Commons today that 650 infantrymen from the Royal Highland Fusiliers will fly out this week. The troops are going to the British base in Basra, southern Iraq, to bolster security in the run-up to the first national elections on 30 January.
The contingent would take the total UK military presence in Iraq to more than 9,000. Another battalion of armoured infantry, the Royal Scots, is on standby in Britain and could be ordered to Iraq if the security situation deteriorates further.
Coalition forces are braced for an escalation in violence as insurgents attempt to derail the elections.
More than 100 Iraqi civilians, including Baghdad governor Ali al-Haidari, and 10 US troops, were killed in the last week alone. President Bush has admitted that four of Iraq's 18 provinces are too unstable for voting to go ahead.