IRAQ - Jan. 4 - Britain To Send 20,000 Troops To Gulf.
The Daily Telegraph says the UK is planning to send more than
20,000 troops to the Gulf and mobilise 7,000 reservists next week in
preparation for war against Iraq. The newspaper says British defence
chiefs will brief PM Tony Blair on his return from holiday about plans
for a mass deployment led by the aircraft carrier Ark Royal. Blair is
then expected to announce the deployment in a statement to parliament.
Asked to comment on the newspaper report, a British Defence Ministry
spokesman said: "We have been making preparations to have credible
options available if necessary and we are likely to do more. We cannot
however rule out the possibility of a further statement next week".
Last month, a British Defence Ministry source told Reuters that
Washington and London were planning a massive seaborne invasion of Iraq
from the Gulf as the first stage in any ground war. The sources said
that planners were leaning towards an amphibious assault task force in
the case of a war with Iraq because of the difficulties of protecting a
large ground-based army from chemical or biological attack.