Blair to announce troops withdrawal
Prime Minister Tony Blair is expected to announce on Tuesday the withdrawal of some of Britain's 7,000 troops from Iraq.
Mr Blair is expected to announce that 1,500 servicemen and women will leave within weeks, with 3,000 home by Christmas, according to reports in The Sun.
Mr Blair last week announced the success of Operation Sinbad in securing the key southern city of Basra, which he said would pave the way for the handover of security responsibility to homegrown Iraqi forces.
A spokesman for 10 Downing Street would neither deny nor confirm the reports, saying only: "It is right that the Prime Minister should update Parliament first."
Mr Blair is due to appear before MPs for his regular weekly half-hour grilling at Prime Minister's Questions, though this would be an unlikely forum for him to make such an announcement.
Downing Street declined to comment on whether Mr Blair would be making an oral statement to the Commons.
It is understood that, following the initial withdrawal of 1,500 troops in April, further drawdowns of UK personnel over the following months would be dependent on the conditions on the ground.
Suggestions that Mr Blair will announce the complete withdrawal of British forces by 2008 were thought to be wide of the mark.
If confirmed, the announcement of British troop withdrawals would come just weeks ahead of the fourth anniversary of the start of the 2003 Iraq War on March 19.
And it comes shortly after US President George Bush launched a "surge" of 21,500 additional American troops in a bid to pacify the north of Iraq and capital Baghdad, which has been plagued by sectarian fighting and terrorism.