More soldiers on the way to combat threat of insurgents

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The Independent Online

Britain is preparing to send hundreds more soldiers to Iraq to strengthen security in the approach to the elections on 30 January.

Britain is preparing to send hundreds more soldiers to Iraq to strengthen security in the approach to the elections on 30 January.

Up to 650 troops from the 1st Battalion, Royal Highland Fusiliers are expected to be sent to British-controlled Basra after an escalation of attacks by insurgent groups. From there, they could be dispatched to the area south of Baghdad where a Black Watch battle group was deployed before Christmas. The Fusiliers, who are based in Cyprus, have already completed one tour in Basra, when Private Gordon Gentle, 19, was killed by a roadside bomb. The deployment, which could be announced as early as today, would bring the UK military presence in Iraq close to 10,000.

Coalition forces are braced over the next three weeks for an escalation of attacks designed to wreck or delay the election.

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