British special services men dressed as arab men
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'Five Iraqi civilians killed' in SAS rescue operation
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.