- Title: IRAQ: Iraqis express mixed opinions over British pullout from Basra
- Date: 1st April 2009
- Summary: BASRA, IRAQ (MARCH 29, 2009) (REUTERS) BRITISH MILITARY BAND MARCHING AND PLAYING MUSIC DURING CEREMONY IN BASRA VARIOUS OF BRITISH MILITARY BAND PLAYING MUSIC
- Embargoed: 16th April 2009 13:00
- Location: Iraq
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: Defence / Military
- Reuters ID: LVA80W4MOTC6AN6RU9VWCIP2KCQH
- Story Text: Basra residents express mixed feelings over British troops withdrawal.
Basra residents on Tuesday (March 31) were divided in opinion over British troops withdrawal from their city.
British troops began their pullout from the city to end of an unpopular and controversial presence in Iraq.
Some 4,000 British troops stationed in the southern city's airport are due to leave Iraq by July 31, leaving a residual force of about 400 to train Iraqi security forces.
"I think the time has come to pullout British troops from Basra since the British forces have not accomplished any positive goals in the city.
You will get the same answer if you ask Basra residents - British forces were inattentive and their performance was bad over the past years," Basra resident Mohammed Ali said.
U.S. forces will replace the British military around Basra to maintain security in the city and prevent the threats of militia which dubbed by U.S.
officials as "insignificant".
Hassan Hadi, another Basra resident, said the British troops had treated local citizens well.
"I think the British forces are better, their treatment of the people is good, they carried out a number of projects in compared to U.S.
troops who did not treat us well," he added.
Omer Ahmed, said that he felt the British forces had been respectful towards the people of Basra compared to U.S forces in Baghdad.
"British troops are better because the Americans behave in a barbarian way, the Americans do not care about people they just want to impose their opinions, we saw British forces show respect towards the people and they did not shoot randomly. We we saw the Americans assault people in Baghdad," he said.
Britain as Washington's closest ally sent 45,000 troops to join the 2003 invasion to topple Saddam Hussein on the grounds he was hiding weapons of mass destruction, which were never found.
Then-President George W. Bush's "coalition of the willing"
against Saddam was otherwise a scanty collection of minor states and symbolic contributions. The invasion of Iraq went ahead despite huge protests in Britain and elsewhere.
Under mounting pressure, Britain last week said it would hold an inquiry into its involvement in the Iraq war.
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