Iraq held a farewell banquet for British troops on Sunday, six years after they invaded, in an event marking another step towards the end of an unpopular and controversial British presence in the city of Basra.
The banquet was at the southern city's Shatt al-Arab hotel, now an Iraqi military operations centre, but originally built by British occupation forces in the 1920s as a luxury art deco hotel, complete with a runway and air-control tower.
Those British troops would stay in Iraq for decades. This time Britain will leave Iraq to join the United States in the fight against Taliban and al Qaeda militants in Afghanistan.
Some 4,000 British troops stationed at Basra airport will start leaving now in a gradual process expected to be complete by July 31. A residual force of about 400 British troops will stay on to train Iraqi security forces.