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Britain to Send New Contingent of Soldiers to Iraq

The British government is planning to send an additional 220 soldiers to Iraq to help replace Dutch troops who are leaving the country later this year.

Defense Minister Geoff Hoon made the announcement Thursday.

The Dutch government is to pull its 1,400 troops out of Iraq on March 15. Mr. Hoon says Britain will deploy 600 of its soldiers to provide stability in the area of southern Iraq evacuated by the Dutch. He said the 220 additional British troops will supplement Iraqi forces and provide them with logistics and other "essential support."

Mr. Hoon said British troops will also support Iraqi security forces in the run-up to Sunday's general elections and help protect Japanese troops who are engaged in construction projects.

About 9,000 British troops are deployed in Iraq, concentrated in the southern provinces around Basra.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AP.