LONDON  - Military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan since late 2001 will have cost the British government a total of 12 billion pounds ($23.6b) by next year, according to figures provided by Defence Secretary Des Browne on Tuesday. In a House of Commons written reply to requests filed by opposition lawmakers, Browne noted that Finance Minister Alistair Darling had earmarked "at least" two billion pounds for operations in the two countries in this year's budget. That would be in addition to the 9.94 billion pounds that operations there have cost Britain since late 2001. Military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan cost 4.98 billion pounds and 1.58 billion pounds respectively from late 2001 to the 2006-07 financial year to the end of March. On top of that, operations in the two countries cost a combined 3.37 billion pounds in 2007-08. Britain has approximately 7,800 soldiers in Afghanistan, most of whom are in the restive southern province of Helmand, along with a further 4,000 troops in Iraq, the majority of which are based around the southern city of Basra.