Blair: Britain to start withdrawing Iraq troops

Britain will withdraw around 1,600 troops from Iraq over the "coming months" and aims to cut its 7,100-strong force to below 5,000 by late summer if local forces can secure the southern part of the country, Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday. British troops will remain in Iraq until at least 2008 and work to secure the Iran-Iraq border and maintain supply routes to US and coalition troops in central Iraq, Blair told the House of Commons. "The actual reduction in forces will be from the present 7,100 - itself down from over 9,000 two years ago and 40,000 at the time of the conflict - to roughly 5,500," Blair said.