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US, Britain Consider Pulling Some Troops From Iraq

U.S. and British media say Washington and London are considering pulling some troops out of Iraq next year, in part to strengthen forces fighting an increasingly deadly war in Afghanistan.

The New York Times newspaper reports Sunday that by the time U.S. President George Bush leaves office in late January 2009, as many as three of the 15 U.S. combat brigades in Iraq could be withdrawn, or at least be scheduled to withdraw.

The newspaper quotes Bush administration and military officials who say combat forces may start to withdraw from Iraq as early as September.

Separately, the head of Britain's armed forces told the British Broadcasting Corporation today that Britain plans to withdraw a couple thousand troops from Iraq next year.

Air Chief Marshal Jock Stirrup said Britain's involvement in both Iraq and Afghanistan has over-stretched the army and its resources.

He said the army needs to get back down to a more sustainable operational tempo to ease the strain.

U.S. officials say violence has declined significantly in Iraq since President Bush sent additional troops to the country last year. But in Afghanistan, attacks by Taliban militants have increased.

During May and June, more foreign troops died in Afghanistan than in Iraq.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.