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British Pull Last Of Their Troops Out Of Basra

From a gladdened Associated Press:

Britain pulls out of downtown Basra base

By DAVID RISING, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD – Iraqi soldiers hoisted the nation’s flag over the Basra palace compound Monday after British troops withdrew from their last garrison in the city, leaving the country’s second biggest city largely in the hands in the hands of Iranian-backed Shiite militias…

The departure of most of the remaining 500-member British force from the palace left the nation’s second largest city without any multinational presence for the first time since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.

“We told those (militias) who were fighting the British troops that the Iraqi forces are now in the palaces,” Lt. Gen. Mohan al-Fireji, the Iraqi commander in the area. He said the last of the British force left about 4:30 a.m.

Iraq’s defense minister said he was confident his military will be able to fill the vacuum and maintain security Basra.

“We are working very seriously to fill the security vacuum and we expect in the next few days to fill it in a good way,” Defense Minister Abdul-Qadir al-Obaidi said during a stopover in Beirut, Lebanon en route to Europe.

“And I am certain that the security situation will be much better,” he added, saying British forces will act “as a backup for our forces when we request it.” …

People on the streets of Basra cheered the departure of the British.

“We are pleased that the Iraqi army are now taking over the situation. We as an Iraqi people reject occupation. We reject colonialism. We want our freedom,” resident Rudha Muter told AP Television News.

Another resident, Khazaal al-Nisiri, said he was confident the Iraqi army could provide enough security without the British.

“We have recently seen intensive deployment for Iraqi security troops — this indicates that the Iraqi troops are in full control of the situation,” he said. “So the British troops pullout won’t cause a vacuum in the area — our security troops are carrying out their duty well.”

Of course our watchdog media are doing their best to make this out to be a sign that the British are “cutting and running.”

Which is not the case at all.

Still, this will be a very important test as to whether the Iraqis can actually control themselves.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, September 3rd, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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