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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 August 2006, 09:05 GMT 10:05 UK
Iraq province 'nearing' handover
A British soldier inspects the site of a blast
Troops will continue to train Iraqi border patrols in Maysan
British forces in Iraq are moving closer to handing over control in the Maysan province to local security forces by closing a camp in the area.

The Abu Naji camp in the province, where around 1,000 soldiers of the Queen's Royal Hussars are based, will close in September.

The Ministry of Defence said troops would be "working closely" with Iraqi police, army and border enforcement.

Some 22 soldiers have died in the province and 115 in Iraq overall.

Memorials to the dead will be moved to Basra, in southern Iraq, as the camp is wound down.

The Queen's Royal Hussars will also be moving to a base near Basra.

They will operate from that region as they continue to train Iraqi border patrols in Maysan in methods to prevent smuggling - particularly of explosives.

And, in the next stage of the move towards a handover to Iraqi forces, troops will support local personnel in providing security for the province's main town of Al Amara.

We would stress that our over-arching priority is to ensure that the frontline is properly supported
Ministry of Defence

An MoD spokesman, who described the move as "re-posturing", said: "We are focusing on working closely with the department of border enforcement, the Iraqi police and Iraqi army."

Meanwhile, the Sunday Telegraph claims leaked documents suggest a multi-million pound cost-cutting drive is undermining the Army's capabilities and has crushed morale.

It reports that defence chiefs are facing an unprecedented cash crisis which means the Army would be unable to deploy most of its sophisticated missile systems to Iraq or Afghanistan if they were needed.

Responding to the claims, the MoD spokesman said: "We do not comment on leaked documents.

"We would stress that our over-arching priority is to ensure that the frontline is properly supported."

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