Sunday, July 01, 2007

Report: Australia secretly planning Iraq withdrawal within 7 months

Above: During a commemoration by members of the Australian Defence Forces, the catafalque party rests on arms during an Anzac Day ceremony at Camp Victory, Baghdad.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard is secretly planning to begin withrawing Australian troops from Iraq by February 2008, Australian media reported on Sunday.

The Sunday Telegraph, quoting an unnamed senior military source, described Howard's withdrawal plan as "one of the most closely guarded secrets in top levels of the bureaucracy".

The Sunday Telegraph said the drawdown of troops would focus on soldiers based in southern Iraq on security duty with Iraqi soldiers.

Australia has about 1,500 soldiers, sailors and airmen in and around Iraq.

Howard, a close ally of U.S. President George W. Bush, has been a mainstay of support for the controversial United States military presence in Iraq.

Read the rest at Reuters/Alternet