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Iraq: Dutch Handover To British Forces

Dutch Handover To British Forces In Al Muthanna - Iraq

Today, at a handover ceremony at Camp Smitty in As Samawaha, the principle city of Al Muthanna province, British Forces assumed command from the Dutch battalion. British troops started their initial deployment to the area two weeks ago. In preparation for their role providing continuity in the provision of security in Al Muthanna province, they have already carried out joint patrols with the Dutch and Iraqi Security Forces.

Armed Forces Minister, Adam Ingram, attending the flag ceremony, said:

"British Forces are in a strong position to consolidate the progress made by the Dutch. They will bring, in Al Muthanna, their valuable experience from training the Iraqi Security Forces in Basra and will continue to provide security for the Iraqi people and the Japanese humanitarian operation in the area."

British General Andrew Riley, Commanding MND(SE) said:

"The Dutch have made an outstanding contribution. We can all be proud of what they have achieved, especially in building the capability of the Iraqi Security Forces. And we can also look forward to working with Australia's contingent as they join British Forces here in the weeks ahead."

The UK is deploying around 600 troops to the province - the majority drawn from forces already in-theatre, with some 450 Australian troops expected to arrive in the near future.

This scheduled re-deployment within the Multi-national Division (SE) follows the Dutch decision to leave Iraq, and follows an announcement by the Secretary of State, Geoff Hoon last month.

The Dutch contribution to MND(SE) has been significant in bringing stability to the Al Muthanna Province. Based in the city of As Samawah they have been working to strengthen the Iraqi Security Forces, with over 5000 now trained and patrolling in the area.

The Japanese component of some 600 troops continues to provide humanitarian assistance and economic support to the region.

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