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Last Updated: Monday, 10 October 2005, 17:09 GMT 18:09 UK
More Scottish troops sent to Iraq
Highlanders line-up
About 600 Highlanders are going to Iraq for the first time
More than 1,300 extra Scottish troops are being sent to Iraq, Defence Secretary John Reid has announced.

The MoD said soldiers from Scottish regiments would be deployed in the south of the country from early November.

About 600 troops from the Highlanders will be in Iraq for the first time.

A similar number of soldiers from the Scots Dragoon Guards, currently stationed in Germany, are also being sent to the region.

Six months

Both deployments are expected to last six months.

While the transfer is taking place, about 120 men from the Royal Highland Fusiliers are being sent to the country for a few weeks.

Monday's announcement was part of a planned operation which will see the army's 7th Armoured Brigade taking over British operations in Iraq.

This is a missed opportunity for the government to put in place an exit strategy
Angus Robertson

As a result of the changes, MoD officials said the overall size of the British force in Iraq would be reduced by about 500 to 8,000.

Angus Robertson, the SNP's Moray MP, said he was "disappointed" with the decision.

"I can only sympathise with troops and their families at this decision which could mean more troops being away from their families at Christmas," he said.

"This is a missed opportunity for the government to put in place an exit strategy, supporting the replacement of UK troops with an Islamic force.

"As the Scottish troops move again to Iraq our thoughts are with them and their families. We wish them Godspeed and a safe return home as soon as possible."

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