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As it leaves Iraq, Britain looks warily to Afghanistan

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The British combat mission in Iraq has come to an end after six years in a war that The Guardian called the "most controversial military operation since the Suez crisis more than 50 years ago."

On Thursday, British Forces handed over their airbase to a US brigade, having completed their mission to train two Iraqi Army divisions. Almost all 4,000 British troops will leave Iraq by May 31, with 400 British servicemen remaining in Basra's port city of Umm Qasr to continue training Iraqi forces.

Now that the final chapter of the United Kingdom's time in Iraq has officially come to a close, many British citizens and government officials are reflecting on their involvement in the largely unpopular war and looking warily ahead at the escalating conflict in Afghanistan.

"The road to success has been long and, at times, painful," said Gen. Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the Army, according to The Guardian newspaper. "As in any operation of this nature and complexity, things did not always develop as we might have expected. It is therefore critical that we, as an army and within defence as a whole, learn from our experiences in Iraq and implement those lessons for current and future operations."

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