London: On the day the Prime Minister Tony Blair is to appear before parliament , British media reported that he would announce a new plan for troop withdrawal from Iraq. As per the plan, thousands of soldiers may return home in a matter of weeks.
A spokesman for Blair’s Downing Street office would not confirm or deny the report, but the White House confirmed that Blair had told U.S. President George Bush that he plans to begin pulling out troops from Iraq.
Blair is set to appear before parliament today for his weekly half-hour question-and-answer session.
According to The Sun daily, Blair will say that the first contingent of 1,500 troops will leave the war-torn country and arrive in Britain in a matter of weeks, and a further 1,500 will follow by the end of the year.
Britain has about 7,100 troops in Iraq, most of them based around the southern city of Basra. It is the second-largest foreign contingent of soldiers after that of the United States.
A total of 132 British troops have died since the start of the US-led invasion in March 2003, according to an AFP count based on Pentagon figures.