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British special services men dressed as arab men

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'Five Iraqi civilians killed' in SAS rescue operation
(Filed: 21/09/2005)

In pics: troops under attack

Five Iraqi civilians died in clashes surrounding the controversial operation to free two British SAS men captured in Basra, it was claimed today.

Iraqi police said the latest two died in hospital today after being wounded as British troops stormed a police station jail on Monday.

Iraqi police are reported to have taken part in anti-British demonstrations in the southern Iraqi city today.

But John Reid, the Defence Secretary, and Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari insisted relations between the two countries remained strong.

"There has not been a fundamental breakdown in trust between the British Government and the Iraqi government," Mr Reid said at a press conference following talks between the two men in London today.

He said the strategy of the British Government had not changed, and it would work towards a handover of security to Iraqi forces.

"We will not cut and run, and we will not leave the job half done," he said.

Mr Jaafari also said that the incidents of the last few days would not affect British-Iraqi relations, and said such incidents were "expected to happen". He said he had ordered a full inquiry.

Confusion still surrounds whether British forces knocked down a prison wall, resulting in the escape of prisoners, in their attempt to rescue the two SAS men.

The British troops believed the two Special Forces men were being held there but later freed them from a house in Basra where they were being held by Shia militia.

As concern grew that Iraqi police had handed the men over to the militia, Iraq's government admitted that insurgents had infiltrated its security forces.

Iraq's national security adviser Dr Mouwafak al-Rubaie said: "Our Iraqi security forces in general, police in particular, in many parts of Iraq, I have to admit, have been penetrated by some of the insurgents, some of the terrorists as well.

"I can't deny this. We are putting in place a very scrupulous, very meticulous vetting procedure in the process of recruiting a new batch of police and Iraqi army, which will, if you like, clean our security forces as well as stop any penetration in future from the insurgents and terrorists."

The capture of the SAS men came a day after British forces in Basra arrested two leading members of the outlawed Mahdi Army, which is loyal to firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and is widely believed to have heavily infiltrated police in the city.

Other groups to have infiltrated the police are believed to include the Badr Brigade, which is the armed wing of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution, and Hezbollah in Iraq.

All three groups have historical ties to neighbouring Iran.

Police in Basra said the SAS men, who were travelling in a car dressed as Arab men, shot and killed a policeman when they were stopped.

But the British said no one was killed and a spokesman for Mr Jaafari said they were arrested for behaving suspiciously.

British officers say they received intelligence that the men's lives were at risk and bulldozed their way into the jail, in the face of a mob throwing petrol bombs, to rescue them.

The action, condemned by many in Iraq, was defended as "absolutely right" by Dr Reid.

2 british soldiers caught trying to plant explosives { September 20 2005 }
Basra crisis talks as tensions rise { September 21 2005 }
Basra jail after brits ap [jpg]
Basra seized [jpg]
Bbc article twists truth and blames insurgents { September 21 2005 }
British attack basra jail to free two
British commandos fired on iraqi police { September 19 2005 }
British destroy rogue basra police hq { November 2006 }
British free 76 iraqis from basra police head quarters { December 26 2006 }
British soldiers dressed like arabs fired on police patrol { September 19 2005 }
British special service pays insurgency in cash { August 28 2005 }
British special services men dressed as arab men
British tanks spring prisoners in iraq { September 19 2005 }
British vehicles cash into basra jail { September 19 2005 }
Brits abandon burning tank { August 2005 } [jpg]
Brits dressed as iraqis fire at police { September 20 2005 }
Brits equipment confiscated [jpg]
Brits planned explosions to blame on alsadr { September 22 2005 }
Brits to leave basra { February 21 2007 }
Captured brits footage still [jpg]
Confiscated from two british soldiers [jpg]
Confiscated from two british soldiers2 [jpg]
Friend or foe challenge in basra { September 21 2005 }
Insurgents turn out to be brits { August 2005 }
Iraq judge seeks arrest of freed british soldiers
Iraqi police arrested over sas kidnapping { November 2006 }
Iraqi police protest after british raid { August 2005 }
Iraqis blame brits for sectarian divisions
Iraq_burning_tank_cp_8477479 [jpg]
News clips of events in basra undercover brits { September 19 2005 }
Sas agents in brought in explosives from iran
Sas officers held in basra [jpg]
Soldiers in flames abandon burning tank
Two britons detained for firing at police
Undercover britons held after basra shootings { September 19 2005 }
Undercover brits captured in basra [jpg]
Undercover brits detained after shootout { September 20 2005 }
Violence after brit army assault freeing undercover brits { September 20 2005 }

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