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US Forces to Replace British Forces in Southern Iraq

The opt U.S. general in Iraq says American troops will move into southern Iraq early next year to replace departing British forces.

U.S. Army General Ray Odierno told the Associated Press Saturday that he is considering moving an undetermined number of combat troops and about 100 personnel into the city of Basra - Iraq's second-largest city.

Earlier Saturday, Iraq's parliament rejected a draft law that would have allowed foreign troops from countries other than the United States to remain in Iraq beyond the end of the year.

The law would have authorized the presence of troops from Britain, Australia, Estonia, Romania and El Salvador to be deployed until the end of next July.

The legislation does not pertain to U.S. troops because the U.S. has already signed an agreement with the Iraqi government allowing troops to stay after a U.N. mandate on the deployment issue expires December 31.

One Kurdish lawmaker, Mahmud Othman, said that since the majority of parliament voted against the bill, it will now be given back to the government to be amended, before being voted on again.

Some of the Iraqi parliament members who voted against the draft law include followers of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Britain has the second largest foreign troop contingent in Iraq, after the United States. British leaders recently said the country will withdraw all of its forces by the end of May.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.