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Basra Turf Concerns Grow as Brits Pack Up

British troops are due to leave their base in central Basra on Friday and move to an airbase 10 miles outside the city — a preliminary step before a full withdrawal from Iraq, which is expected by the end of the year.

There's increasing concern that the withdrawal of British troops will intensify a turf battle between Shiite groups which, in turn, could leave vulnerable a vital supply route for U.S. forces, as well as the southern oil fields and the Port of Basra.

Military analysts say the United States — already stretched thin in Iraq — most likely will have to send its troops to Basra.

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Jackie Northam is NPR's International Affairs Correspondent. She is a veteran journalist who has spent three decades reporting on conflict, geopolitics, and life across the globe - from the mountains of Afghanistan and the desert sands of Saudi Arabia, to the gritty prison camp at Guantanamo Bay and the pristine beauty of the Arctic.
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