British troops conduct a training patrol with Iraqi security police in Basra.
Six years after the disastrous invasion of Iraq, Britain’s armed forces have formally ended their combat mission in the war-torn country. Believing that their role is finished, U.K. government officials handed over control of their base to the U.S.—not Iraqi—military.
Six years after the invasion of Iraq, British troops yesterday formally ended their combat mission, the UK’s most controversial military operation since the Suez crisis more than 50 years ago, when they handed over their airport base to a US brigade.
“The role of British ground forces is finished,” a defence official said, having completed their mission of mentoring and training two Iraqi army divisions. Yesterday’s ceremonies were in many ways symbolic. British forces had been winding down their presence in Basra for many weeks and had already handed over responsibility for Basra’s security to the Iraqis at the start of the year.
It was significant that UK forces handed over their base not to the Iraqis but the Americans. US forces will remain in Basra protecting the important supply route from Kuwait, and helping the Iraqi army and police force.