Britain's most senior soldier has backed away from his remarks that the British Army's presence in Iraq "exacerbates the security problems." Gen. Richard Dannatt was quoted by The Daily Mail as saying that troops should be withdrawn from Iraq "soon."
His statements, which appeared to run contrary to British government policy, sparked a political storm. Gen. Dannatt says that he meant that a phased withdrawal over two or three years is needed.
The Daily Mail, known for its frequent opposition to the government, has refused to issue a transcript of its original interview with the general. Prime Minister Tony Blair said he fully supports Gen. Dannatt, though he said he agreed with the interviews the general gave this morning, not the one that appeared in the newspaper.