More than six year after participating in the US invasion, Britain formally ended its combat operations in Iraq. The southern port city of Basra will now be patrolled by thousands of US forces, which took over a British base last month.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown declared Iraq “a success story,” attributing the relative drop of violence in the nation to British involvement, but not commenting on the soaring violence of the past month. Brown said he was proud of the legacy left by the British military in fighting the nation’s insurgency.
British Defense Secretary John Hutton conceded that at some point there would have to be an inquiry into the nation’s involvement in the long, bloody war, which saw the deaths of 179 British soldiers, but he said that now was not the time for such an inquiry, suggesting that people take “pride in our forces” as opposed to asking the uncomfortable questions lingering about the conflict.
The formal end of the British combat role leaves the United States as the final member of the so-called “coalition of the willing” taking part in combat across the nation. The US still has around 130,000 troops in the nation.