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Britons want troops out of Iraq this year: Poll

Written by: Staff
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London, Oct 24: More than 60 percent of British voters want Britain's troops to be withdrawn from Iraq this year, a newspaper survey published today showed.

The ICM poll for the Guardian found that 45 percent of voters felt the soldiers should leave now, while 16 percent wanted them out by the end of the year, even if the United States, Britain's closest ally, asked for the troops to remain.

Only 30 percent supported Prime Minister Tony Blair's stance that forces must stay on the ground until the job is done.

ICM Research interviewed 1,019 adults around the country aged 18 and above on October 20-22.

The findings come as pressure rises on Blair and US President George W Bush over Iraq, where British and US troops continue to die in sustained violence that also claims the lives of scores of Iraqi civilians daily.

Visiting Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih warned in London on Monday that the United States and Britain must not cut and run from Iraq even though his country was ''on the brink''.

Britain, which has 7,200 troops in Iraq, plans to hand over security duties gradually in the south to Iraqi forces.

The Guardian said its survey contrasted with the results of the newspaper's last poll on the subject in September 2005, when 51 percent of voters backed troop withdrawal.

In contrast, 41 per cent said British forces should stay in Iraq until the security situation in the country had improved.

The latest ICM poll, which was conducted at the weekend, found that women in particular supported an early troop exit.

Some 51 per cent of women voters said they wanted troops out now and only 24 per cent backed them staying beyond Christmas.

REUTERS

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