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Iraq: Operation Sinbad

Volume 689: debated on Wednesday 21 February 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What multinational forces are contributing to Operation Sinbad in Iraq; and how many United Kingdom military forces currently contribute to Operation Sinbad; and [HL1902]

What further investments they expect to make to reconstruction projects under Operation Sinbad; and [HL1903]

What reconstruction projects remain to be completed under Operation Sinbad; what is the expected timescale for the completion of these reconstruction projects; and whether any further such projects are planned. [HL1904]

Operation Sinbad is a joint multinational force (MNF)/Iraqi operation to improve security in Basra City. When the operation began in September 2006, Iraqi forces were employed in a supporting role but, as Op Sinbad has progressed, they have gained valuable experience and expertise, which has seen them taking on the lead role. As a consequence, the number of UK troops involved reduced from approximately 650 in the early phases of the operation to fewer than 150 troops in the latter phases of the operation.

Over the course of Op Sinbad, more than $70 million is being invested in a host of reconstruction activities including water and electricity infrastructure projects, hospital and school refurbishments and resupply and road network improvements. In order to achieve this, security forces “pulse” into a particular focus area for 36 hours to allow civilian and military engineers, and Iraqi civilian workers to carry out a variety of immediate impact reconstruction activities and to initiate a number of medium and longer-term projects. Following the initial pulses the medium and long-term projects are carried forward by Iraqis. There are currently more than 100 Op Sinbad medium/long-term projects, worth tens of millions of dollars, still ongoing and it is estimated that the majority of the medium-term projects will be completed in the next two months while the longer-term projects are likely to remain ongoing for three to six months. In addition to the reconstruction work, a MNF police training team visits local police stations during Op Sinbad to assess the abilities of the police services and provide training and mentoring.

Op Sinbad will continue to be conducted in other parts of Basra province, including more rural and provincial areas, with Iraqi forces taking the lead for delivering the operation in these areas. The projects for these focus areas are still being developed and it is not possible to say accurately at this stage what further investment will be made in these areas. However, outwith Op Sinbad, five major projects are planned to improve roads, water and sewage treatment in the multinational division (south-east) area. It is estimated that the total cost of this investment will be some $23 million.