Britain Sending 1,200 More Troops to Iraq

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Britain is sending two additional battalions to Iraq, adding 1,200 troops to its forces on the ground, the Ministry of Defense said Monday.

Britain now has 11,000 troops in the country and British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon (search) indicated that more troops were likely to be required.

"We will immediately take steps to identify and reduce notice to move for some additional headquarters and units, to allow further deployments as rapidly as possible in response to this accelerating program of work," Hoon said in a written statement to Parliament.

Eleven British troops have died in Iraq since May 1, when President Bush declared major combat operations over. Forty-nine British troops have died in the war in total.

Some 120 servicemen were sent to Iraq from Cyprus over the weekend. The Ministry of Defense said they were included in the 1,200 troops whose deployment was announced Monday.

"This response is not a knee-jerk response to recent attacks. It's part of a strategic plan to achieve the goals I have set out," Prime Minister Tony Blair's official spokesman said.

The spokesman, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, characterized the deployment as "a targeted response to achieve these objectives with one clear objective in mind, and that's to put the Iraqi people in charge of their own areas at national level, as they are in 90 percent of towns and cities."

Hoon said Britain was deploying the balance of 2nd Battalion The Light Infantry, which would be supporting current operations and offering additional protection to the Coalition Provisional Authority; and the 1st Battalion The Royal Green Jackets (search), which will be assigned in part to accelerate training of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps.