UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has said the operation to hand over frontline security in Basra to Iraqi troops had been "completed" and been "successful".Reuters DeathWatch:
Asked about reports he would announce within weeks an effective halving of UK troop numbers in Iraq, he told the BBC's Sunday AM: "Let's wait and see."
He said Iraqi forces were in "control of frontline security in the city"...
"The issue is the operation that we have been conducting in Basra is now complete and that operation has specifically been to put the Iraqi forces in the main frontline control of security within the city.
"It's actually been successful as an operation and as a result of that there's reconstruction that's come in behind it and we've been able to make real progress."
BASRA, Iraq, Feb 18 (Reuters) - British forces clashed with gunmen armed with machineguns and rocket-propelled grenades in a Shi'ite militia stronghold of the southern Iraqi city of Basra on Sunday, killing at least three, Iraqi police said.Clearly.
The British military confirmed the clashes, saying its soldiers had been supporting Iraqi troops on a "strike operation" in the northern slum area of Hayaniya when they came under attack.
"There were numerous attacks with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades," said British military spokesman Major David Gell.
"We returned fire using proportional force. A number of gunmen are reported to have been shot, but we have no confirmation of casualties."