UK: Britain to hand over control of Basra by '08

British troops are likely to hand control of the southern Iraqi city of Basra to local forces by the end of the year, the head of Britain's armed forces said Thursday. Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, the chief of defense staff, said a decision on exactly when responsibilities would be ceded to Iraq's police and military will be taken in the next few months. "We are very close to being able to hand over Basra in my judgment," Stirrup told British Broadcasting Corp. radio. "Just when we will reach that point is at the moment uncertain but I am fairly confident it will be in the second half of the year."