Page last updated at 13:43 GMT, Wednesday, 16 April 2008 14:43 UK

Basra security leaders removed

Iraqi army soldier at checkpoint in Basra
The Iraqi operation in Basra did not achieve is stated aims

The Iraqi government has replaced the commanders of the army and police forces in the southern city of Basra.

The move comes weeks after an assault that aimed to disarm Shia militias in the city.

The operation was criticised by US commanders as poorly planned and failed to achieve its stated aims.

It ended when Iranian officials brokered a deal that took the militias off the streets but allowed them to keep hold of their weapons.

The Iraqi government says that the police chief and the army commander in Basra are not being fired, but they are being moved back to Baghdad.

Both Maj-Gen Abduljalil Khalaf and Gen Mohan Furaiji have been in the city for six months.

Both men have been praised by the British and American military and both have survived assassination attempts.


The BBC's Baghdad correspondent Crispin Thorold says the men are leaving Basra at a time when the security forces there are being criticised.

Army chief Gen Furaiji was the architect of the recent operations in Basra. He recommended the plan to Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.

That operation ground to a halt when the army faced considerable resistance from the militias, including the Mehdi army loyal to Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr .

The fighting spread to various parts of Iraq, hundreds of people were killed and thousands of civilians were trapped in their homes for days on end.

Since the operation, about 1,600 Basra police officers have either been discharged, detained or are wanted for court martial for dereliction of duty.

Iraqi officials told the BBC that the policemen were being investigated for failure to open fire at outlaws, joining them or giving them weapons.

Many soldiers also deserted.

The new army and police commanders are both from outside Basra, large parts of which are still controlled by different militias.

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