Wed, Oct 25, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Britons want troops out of Iraq: surveys

ENOUGH A majority of respondents in two recent polls were of the opinion that Britain should pull its soldiers out of Iraq -- mission accomplished or not

AFP , LONDON

A clear majority of Britons want the country's troops to pull out of Iraq by the end of the year, regardless of whether they have finished their mission, according to two polls published yesterday.

Some 61 percent of the 1,019 people surveyed by polling firm ICM for the Guardian said British soldiers should leave Iraq before next year -- 45 percent want them to withdraw immediately and a further 16 percent say by the end of the year -- even if the US requests that they stay on.

By contrast, just 30 percent backed keeping the troops there as long as is considered necessary.

That compares to 51 percent backing troop withdrawal in a similar poll published in the Guardian in September last year, when 41 percent supported keeping troops in the country until the job was completed.

Meanwhile, in a poll of 977 people by CommunicateResearch for the Independent daily, 62 percent of respondents said they thought British troops should be withdrawn from Iraq as soon as possible, even if the country is not completely stable.

Only 28 percent said soldiers should stay there for as long as it takes.

Approximately 72 percent of respondents said that if British and US troops withdrew from Iraq, it will probably lead to civil war there.

Some 72 percent of respondents also said that the war in Iraq was "unwinnable," with just 19 percent disagreeing.

The Guardian said that support for withdrawing British troops from Iraq soon was particularly strong among women, with 51 percent saying soldiers should leave immediately, and only 24 percent responding that troops should stay on.

The polls came a day after Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh said that nearly half of the country's 18 provinces will be under Iraqi control by the end of the year, despite growing concerns about increased violence in Baghdad and surrounding areas.

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