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Last Updated: Monday, 26 September 2005, 08:12 GMT 09:12 UK
Should Britain apologise to Basra?
Iraqis run from the area as a British Warrior fighting vehicle burns in Basra
What do recent events involving two British soldiers mean for relations between the British military and the Iraqi authorities in Basra?

The governor of Basra will not work with British troops until there is an apology for a raid to free two UK soldiers.

Defence secretary John Reid defended the actions of the British forces in freeing the soldiers who'd been arrested by police and then handed to Shia militia.

The men, who were said to have been working undercover, were accused of opening fire on local police.

Dr Reid said that British forces are working "shoulder-to-shoulder" with Iraqis in the "vast majority" of cases despite an admission by National Security Adviser Muwafaq al-Rubaie that security services have been infiltrated by insurgents.

What will the incident mean for relations between the British military and the Iraqi authorities in Basra? What should the UK government do about the presence of UK troops in the region? Are you in Basra? If so what is the atmosphere like in the city?

If you have any pictures or video footage send them to yourpics@bbc.co.uk

This debate is now closed. Please read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

SUGGEST A DEBATE
This topic was suggested by John Farmer, UK
Is the refusal of Basra Police to hand the two imprisoned UK soldiers over to coalition forces a sign that the Iraqi interim government has no control over its people?

If the police have been infiltrated, there is no other option but to take power off the police. The army was right to rescue those soldiers, otherwise they would have probably featured in an internet video by now.
Matt, Coventry, England

Losing the support of the people you supposedly have liberated tantamount to losing the war. Apologise to Iraqis or leave. The UK and US are fighting a losing war.
Wei Cheng, Toronto, Canada

What seems to be missed here is that the 'soldiers' relinquished all rights by disguising themselves in Arab clothes - consequently they were in the same vulnerable position as undercover spies. Iraq has every right to demand custody of these individuals.
Dr John, KL Malaysia

The British Military should not have to apologies to authorities in Basra. British soldiers are working under extreme pressure and need 100% cooperation from the Iraqis. The Iraqis need to weed out the militants from the police.
Malcolm Welch, Torrevieja, Spain

Perhaps rather than pulling out our armed forces, we should pull out our own media people who seem to use any and all opportunities for a combination of the individual reporters career aims, and their masters' political agenda. That way the real people of southern Iraq and the British Army have a chance to put the country on a stable footing
Dave, Tadcaster, North Yorkshire

I do not think that the Iraq police were naive to arrest two undercover British soldiers without strong reasons. The question to ask is; why were they carrying so many weapons and explosives whilst being under cover? I think there is much more to the story than what is being said.
Fadi, Khobar, Saudi Arabia

Apologise? For what? Liberating them from one of the worst tyrants in the past 30 years? Get real. If anything, the cowards who attacked British troops should be eternally grateful that the British have a good deal more respect for human life than they apparently do.
John McLeod, Brisbane Australia

Now that the Basra civil authorities have reportedly withdrawn all co-operation with our troops who have also decided that it is unsafe to patrol the city, surely it is time to ask why they should continue there?
Robert Morris, Essex

We should begin withdrawing our troops now
M Field, Great Yarmouth
We should begin withdrawing our troops now; we are fast becoming totally embroiled in an American mess that we should have never been party too in the first place. However for some reason we "did our bit" but that's now done so we should not have to police the place as well. Pull out.
M Field, Great Yarmouth

Regardless of the politics, the British army are right to look after their own. Would you wish soldiers to be sacrificed on the pyre of political expediency, in order to avoid a bit of embarrassment for Tony Blair?
Fang Yin, Cork, Ireland

Our troops must be free to do anything they think necessary to defend themselves, full stop.
Len Williams, Brighton

A simple breakdown in communications seems to be at the heart of the problems here. Hopefully lessons can be learnt from this and solutions found.
George Lockton, Gloucester, UK

I have inadequate information to comment on the jailbreak, but the solders in the Warrior tanks acted with incredible courage and restraint. What could have escalated into a major problem has been kept relatively minor. I have great admiration for the British soldiers and their command and control systems.
Anthony, Irvine, CA USA

Better to pull out now and let the Iraqis determine their own fate. we have made a mistake in involving ourselves with Iraq for the last two years, and we need an effective exit strategy ASAP before more British lives are lost.
Daz, Sunderland UK

There is no point trying to set timetables for withdrawal
Steve, Wales
Rightly or wrongly the war was fought and now we as a country have a role to play in helping to bring some stability back to Iraq. The soldiers out there will do what they always do - get on with job. What they need is our continued support and a clear mandate from the government. There is no point trying to set timetables for withdrawal - we are still in the Balkans 10 years on. I believe that we will still be in Iraq in some format or other 10 years from now.
Steve, Wales

The courageous coalition troops are doing a sterling job bringing democracy and stability to Iraq and the vast majority of British and Iraqi people support them. At the same time the gutless media and groups with their own anti-war, anti-US agendas snipe at the troops from within the democracies the very same troops protect! What shameful hypocrisy and decadence!
Ian, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands (formerly UK)

What are we to believe? Were the undercover soldiers handed over to militiamen, or was it an honest mistake based on their refusal to identify themselves while carrying explosives? Were any negotiations held, or was storming the jail the first response? How is anyone to come to a conclusion based on the massively varying reports, except through knee-jerk reaction based on political ideology and fear? I'll wait until I know what's going on.
Kaz, Briton in NJ, USA

The violence out here in Basra is not the British troops' fault. We don't want to be here any more than the public want us to be here, but we have a job to do, so we will do it. I ask but one thing, even if you don't support the war at least support the troops. We are a long way from home.
Gill, Basra, Iraq

The men should never have left police custody. If the Iraqi governing body refuses to realize this and accept the soldiers were attempting a rescue, then the British should leave Iraq.
Patrick, Bonn, Germany

We have two choices; put down or pull out. Either we have to react harshly now and replace the current governor of Basra, or pull out. The simple fact is the police (who are supposed to be our allies) handed over two of our soldier to the militants, the enemy. If we allow this to go on we might as well leave anyway as we will get slaughtered.
Nathan Hobbs, Luton, UK

Britain should not apologise to anyone for rescuing its own soldiers. Britain should reinforce the message that anything less than complete co-operation will be met with strong force. And if any of the perpetrators live they should be hauled before a court and tried for their actions.
Greg Antonacci, Toronto, Canada

Of course Britain should apologize. The government of Iraq is showing some gleams of humanity, asking for an apology after your assault of a (democratic) jail and many of the comments here are arrogant and full of superiority. Maybe double standards are not only patrimony of the US.
Norberto, Argentina

No, quite the opposite, the British should demand an apology from the Iraqi's for daring to arrest and threaten to murder our troops. As for those who say we need to pull out of Iraq, these incidents prove the opposite, that if we pull out then Iraq will quickly descend into chaos.
Neil, Skye, Scotland, UK

The situation is clear. The authorities in Basra don't want our troops there; we don't want to have to keep them there. Bring the troops home and see how they manage.
Jerry B, Exete,r UK

The Brits should not apologize under any circumstances. In fact, this is an opportunity being handed to Britain on a silver platter to pack up and go home. How dare Basra to insist on such a claim when the Brits are there to serve and protect in the first place. Take the opportunity Britain, wind it up and head home.
Robert, Seattle, USA

It is always difficult to get the bottom of incidents like this. There will be many versions of the truth, depending on which side you are on. It is unfortunate but what happened is a constant reminder that it will take some time for things to get better in Iraq. The people there still don't know how to handle all this freedom that has been given to them.
Mark, USA

Any show of weakness by an occupying force is very dangerous
Mark, USA
The British should not apologize under any circumstances. Quite the opposite, the Brits should demand full co-operation and if they don't get it, they should take the local authorities out using military force and impose martial law. Any show of weakness by an occupying force is very dangerous because it exposes a vulnerability the enemy will continue to exploit. The Israelis learned that the hard way.
Mark, USA

What a golden opportunity to get out of Iraq: If the Iraqi 'authorities' will not co-operate then they obviously don't want us there.
Lance, UK

This is the first step to civil war in Iraq. The British army has paved the way for it. The coming days would be more troublesome for all in Iraq.
C Sachidananda Narayanan, Tirunelveli, India

We as army wives fully commend our husbands and service personnel that are serving out in Iraq. Monday's incident only proves the sheer professionalism and high standards by our UK troops.
Lisa & Jo, Tidworth Wiltshire

It seems irresponsible to pull out now, but it is better to pull out now, then when there will be no other choice.
Tulio, London

Being an ex army wife , the events in Basra sends shivers down my spine, reliving the first gulf war all over again. Having said that, I'm immensely proud of our troops out there. They do an outstanding job in such a hostile environment. To the army wives, I know what you are going through, I think of you a lot these days. Take care and take heart.
Tanika, The Netherlands

If they won't support our troops let's pull them out
Paul, Hereford, UK
Enough is enough. Our sons (especially here in Hereford) put their lives on the line to give Iraqis a degree of freedom. If they won't support our troops let's pull them out.
Paul, Hereford, UK

I feel sorry for the western contributors here who have lost loved ones in Iraq, and the Iraqis who have lost loved ones as well in this senseless mess. No one is against the troops on the ground, they are in large good and brave men who unfortunately serve under foolish and arrogant political leaders. Its a tragedy.
Martin Njaga, Nairobi, Kenya

Pacifism is the weak philosophy to follow, the harder is war. There was a problem with Saddam killing thousands, there needed to be a war with the information they had at the time. Listen also to the people of Basra, they want the British to stay, what more proof do you need?
Devin Mynett, Auckland, New Zealand

What sort of a message is sent when one of the countries that invaded Iraq in order to create a sovereign, democratic nation then turns around and storms a prison where two undercover agents are being held? If Iraqis are to believe that the British and Americans are trying to help them build an independent nation, then the UK and US forces must respect the authority of the Iraqi police and judicial system.
Kayll, Regina, Canada

I am glad our troops are keeping the fight there. I only wish the media would relate the silent majority British point of view.
Gloria Medow, Glasgow

It was a fully justified action by the British troops
Emil Peterscu, Romania
It is not a matter of sovereignty, authority or legality, just the simple truth that the soldiers would have been murdered for certain if not for the rescue. In this situation, regardless of what those who wanted to see them murdered say, it was a fully justified action by the British troops.
Emil Peterscu, Romania

As an RAF Regt wife, I think that the British troops are flogging a dead horse. The Iraqi people have been repressed for so long they know nothing else. Time to get our loved ones out now.
Karen Battersby, Bury St Edmunds, UK

This is turning into a 21st century Vietnam. Iraq is on the brink of civil war and we are caught up in the mess of it all. The time has come for a stepped and strategic withdrawal of our troops. Look at Afghanistan, the Taleban are already taking back a hold and those followers of the Saddam Hussein regime will do likewise.
Richard K Leah, Chesterfield England

My brother is serving in Iraq at this moment in time and every night I pray that he will be ok. My brother and his regiment and all the other troops are doing a fantastic job considering the conditions and circumstances out there. Do not blame the troops for this, this is the government's fault not the troops so you should be concerned about their lives and safety.

Your comments must be hard the families of the soldiers to read as it has infuriated me because all your doing is undermining the job which they are doing and let me remind you they're putting there lives at risk for this. I've already lost 2 close friends over there from the Staffordshire regiment, god bless there souls and I'm praying I don't lose a brother over there too. So before you speak, criticise, think of the families of the troops that your criticising and don't let there deaths be in vain. Get home safe bro.
Steve, England

The troops of today will do exactly what previous generations did....they'll just get on with the job in hand and leave 'the civvies' to wring their hands in frustration at the woes of this terrible world.
Terence Summers, Andover

Not pulling out is irresponsible. Clearly we are making things worse by being in Iraq. The two British soldiers who were captured are reputed to have been driving a car full of explosives. What were they doing with the explosives? Basra used to be comparatively peaceful, but not any more. In what possible way can the presence of British or American troops make things any better, when so far all we are doing is making them worse?
Elmore, Portland, Oregon, USA

The recent Basra incident will not go towards improving British-Iraqi forces' relations. The British military should play a more important role in the recruitment process of Iraqi forces to prevent terrorist insurgence in the Iraqi Forces. The British military was justified in getting its soldiers freed. But I feel that the allied forces are in a Catch-22 like situation quite similar to the America-Vietnam situation. Other than increasing their presence in the region, I don't think there is much the British forces can do right now.
Amit Khera, Chandigarh, India

The decision of invading Iraq of US and allies and nonetheless its repercussion in the form of extreme violence and chaos suggests presence of nothing less than an overflowing sense of oppression and deprivation in the minds and souls of Iraqis. Hence, the bottom line reads, that the control should at once be switched over to neutral UN Peace keeping forces in order to save both; precious lives and the idea of having a peaceful, rehabilitated and free Iraq.
Sumaira S Minhas, Islamabad, Pakistan

As the wife of a soldier currently serving a third tour of duty in 2 1/2 years I think those of you who are criticising our troops as beneath contempt. The soldiers in Iraq are doing a job that most "civilians" could not ever contemplate. The government are at fault not the guys on the ground. Does anyone in their right mind think that the lads want to be there? Do they think it's easy for the wives and families?

Most of you are quick to criticise but not one of you would get off of your high horses and do something constructive. You all supported the troops in N Ireland and you were all grateful to them during the firemen's strike. Can I suggest that you go back to leading your boring little lives and, if you feel you must express an opinion, make sure it's about something you are qualified to talk about? I am very, very proud of my husband and believe that he, and his colleagues, are making a difference. Just read the comments from the people in Iraq.
Gill, Bellshill, Scotland

I agree wholeheartedly with Gill for Bellshill in Glasgow's comments. My fiancée is currently in Iraq at the moment and helping with the reconstruction of Iraq. We cannot leave the Iraqi's to put their country together - there is no order or structure - look at the police force which they would rely upon. We should support everyone there who are helping to make life easier for the Iraqis and enabling them to have a country that they can live in without fear of oppression.
Yvonne, Glasgow

No, the failure of "coalition forces" to hand murder suspects over to the due legal process of an allegedly sovereign government exposes the charade of Iraqi sovereignty and the reality of military occupation.
Peter, Manchester

Clearly the militia infiltration runs deep within the appointed governmental structure, and so (sadly) we should have realised. There are too many people who were used to getting their own way by extreme force against the silent and repressed majority that now the (admittedly despicable) iron fist of Saddam's rule has been removed, chaos breaks out, because our forces have strict rules of engagement and unbelievable self restraint.
Martin, Farnborough, UK

The regular army should leave Iraq, it is not party of the solution to the situation there, so it is part of the problem.
Paul Papadopoulos, Athens Greece

Maybe the question should be what does the troops' violence mean for Basra?
Caroline, Ireland

Sadly we cannot now withdraw from this mess we have created. To do so would be a death sentence for thousands of decent Iraqis and would lead to civil war, anarchy, and possible de-stabilisation of the whole region. Suggestions that Iraq could become another Vietnam were ridiculed prior to our invasion, but would anyone now say the idea is ridiculous?
Ian, Edinburgh, Scotland

We were right to rescue our troops and we should stay in Basra. Anything else would be letting our boys down and letting down the people of Basra.
John, London

What on earth were SAS personnel doing shooting at policemen in the first place? Was this an attempt to provoke insurgency? We will never know. But the speed at which the men were rescued hints at preventing the cat from leaving the bag.
Andrew, Liverpool

My other half is out there at the moment; I am worried sick and can't understand what is supposed to happen. Not in a million years is there going to be a democracy. How many more lives need to be lost before people realise this? Tony, get the troops out as long as you can.
Annie , Henlow, England

Wait until British soldiers kill "genuine" Iraqi police officers. The media will have a field day at their expense. If our troops don't know who their enemy is, they can't do their job and reluctantly they should now leave.
Peter L, Stockport, UK

This has all the hallmarks of becoming another Vietnam
Steve, Barnsley
This has all the hallmarks of becoming another Vietnam. Soldiers are not policemen, maintaining a peace needs trained policemen. Unfortunately there is an element within the Iraqi police that supports the old tribal system. If we get out there will be a civil war which will seriously de-stabilise the Middle East.
Steve, Barnsley

I'm afraid Steve has it exactly right when he points out that "this has all the hallmarks of becoming another Vietnam". At the very least, the President needs to draw up an exit plan.
P. Bolton, US

What happened in Basra shows a snapshot of the real situation; the Iraqi police force actually is a Shia police force. No matter how the US and UK occupying forces try to cover this up, this is the naked truth.
Selim Khalil, Cairo, Egypt

What exactly were our "special forces" up to, in plain clothes and a car packed with weapons? Today our media, en masse, is diverting our attention by claiming that insurgents are joining the Iraqi police. Isn't that exactly what "our boys" are doing, but in reverse?
Tim, UK

I do not think the British, but in particular the Americans understand the nature of Iraqi society, much of it based on tribalism. Even if we do manage to establish some form of democracy, I predict within 12 months after our departure there will be a bloody civil war. My advice for what it is worth is get out now while we can.
G Anderson, UK

What choice is there but to stay till the mess is sorted. You can't really ask the UN to take over the disaster now - they were against the invasion from the start. This is a classic case of someone stepping in to stop a fight between two people and then they both turn on you, tough luck, will we ever learn to keep our noses out of other people's business ?
Chris, Telford UK

I applaud the guts of the British military
Andrew Campbell, Perth, Western Australia
Folks, you don't leave your personnel in the hands of unfriendly militia, especially when legal orders from the local security services hierarchy have been ignored. I applaud the guts of the British military in looking after their personnel; the alternative is a very poorly motivated force, and that leads to all manner of issues.
Andrew Campbell, Perth, Western Australia

I was for the invasion of Iraq as I believed that getting rid of a tyrant would make life better for the Iraqi people. I now admit I was wrong. The recent events only underline the fact that we are not wanted there. Time for our boys to come home.
Alan Baker, Chelmsford, England

British and Americans, just get out from that land. Let the UN take car of the Iraqis. You have done nothing but disaster.
Ali Hasan, Malaysia

As a Briton living close to Basra I implore our government to pull out British troops before more lives are lost. Those of us close to the action know that the situation is 'unwinnable' and not worth the loss of good men and women.
Chris Jones, Kuwait

I am absolutely astounded that anyone thought we should leave our soldiers in the hands of the Iraqi militia. They did the right thing releasing our soldiers by force when mob rule threatens the lives of our soldiers.
Helen, Halifax

Our troops are stuck out there in the thick of it
James Doherty, Glasgow
Regardless of your views on the Iraq war, our troops are stuck out there in the thick of it and under orders not to shoot back despite being under attack themselves. What a horrible position to be in. Respect to the guys out there.
James Doherty, Glasgow

Is anyone here paying attention to the postings from Basra citizens before putting in their expert opinions? It seems to me that most folks from Basra are grateful that the Brits are there helping them.
Sue, Florida, USA

As we jumped in to Iraq in such a gung-ho fashion we have a responsibility to remain until the situation is stabilised. However, the responsibility for going in lies with the government, so maybe some MPs would like to volunteer for peace keeping/policing operations? No? What a surprise.
Geoff White, London, England

We should stay in Iraq until the rule of law has been established and the Iraqis are able to enforce it for themselves. We should not be swayed by individual incidents no matter how worrying or sad each one may be.
John Walkley, Wintetrthur, Switzerland

Although pulling out at this stage would be irresponsible, acts like this show that the corruption is still there in Iraq.
Michael, Swansea, Wales

What violence means for invading troops is less than irrelevant, what really matters here is the fate of millions or Iraqis who have seen their country and lives devastated by the so-called 'liberation' perpetrated by the US-UK axis of carnage.
Gonzalo Vuez Villanueva, Santiago, Chile

We were right to go to war but we have to stick it out. We can't give up now.
Becky, Wigan UK

I think the British army were well within their rights to conduct a peaceful rescue mission
John, Reading, England
I think a few people have missed the point here. Yes the two soldiers were arrested for whatever reasons, but the Iraqi police were then ordered to hand them over to the coalition, which they refused to do. I think the British army were well within their rights to conduct a peaceful rescue mission - not all guns blazing as might be expected after the petrol bombings from the previous evening.
John, Reading, England

You may remember Saddam Hussein's prophetic words shortly after his capture, to his American interrogators he snarled "do you really think you can run Iraq?" at the time the majority of people regarded these words as the rantings of a captured madman. Yes, we should leave Iraq when the job is done but we should also heed the words of a despicable but informed and experienced despot.
Chris Stubbs, Holmfirth

The recent "incident" will reinforce the fact that the British are occupiers and not "helpers". What kind of mission were the two Brits on anyway? That is a very interesting question. They might have easily be suspected of playing the part of insurgents. It opens up for the question; is the insurgent story just a hoax? Is it all staged by the US and their ever so helpful Brits?
Einar Davidsson, Oslo, Norway

This simply makes a mockery of all the claims by the American and British government saying that they want the Iraqis to be responsible for their own security. When they try they are attacked by the British army. Things can only go from bad to worse as we have now made it clear that we, the British army, not the Iraqi security forces will decide what happens in Iraq.
Arthur, Derby, UK

This whole situation is so overblown. Under the circumstances in Iraq as a whole, it could be called a success that there have been so few incidents along these lines in the Shia south of the country. There is no reason to panic about long-term relations between Britain and the new Iraqi government.
Tom, Chicago, USA

From BBCArabic.com: We will feel sad if the British forces face any danger in spite of them being occupying forces, as they are very understanding people and respect all Iraqis.
Salam Sam, Basra, Iraq

It was an irresponsible act by the British army
Faez Abdalla, Basra, Iraq
From BBCArabic.com: It was an irresponsible act by the British army, especially walking around in civilian clothes in places we Iraqis are afraid to go. Such attitude might lead the British army to lose any previous significant effort to gain people's respect here in the south of Iraq. In the meantime there are barbaric acts and irresponsible behaviour by some of the ordinary people and members of the police force.
Faez Abdalla, Basra, Iraq

From BBCArabic.com: The British government has a lot of explaining and fence mending to do if it wants to avoid the mistakes of the US forces which led to the current situation in the Sunni areas north of Baghdad. The presence of the armed British military in civilian clothing is a situation which no doubt will be used by Sunni and pro-Saddam elements to argue that some of the recent attacks against Shias were organized by the British and US troops as part of a plan to confuse the situation in Iraq. The British forces should mend their relations with the local community to gain their trust and confidence.
Saad Al Attar, Basra, Iraq

From BBCArabic.com: We are from Basra and we know very well who commits these acts: it is the Islamic extremists and the people of Saddam, and they come from known places in Iraq and some Arab countries. We sometimes notice that the police or the national guard captures them, but sometimes they can dodge security forces and come to Basra from other regions in Iraq, and this is the true situation that we live in. If those enemies of democracy and religious freedom did not interfere in our lives Basra would be safer than European countries.
Mees Ahmad Ali, Basra, Iraq

From BBCArabic.com: What happened is a message of warning that the honeymoon between the Iraqis in the south and the British soldiers has come to an end. Years have passed since the toppling of Saddam, but the supposed project of democracy is moving from bad to worse.
Ahmed Nashaat, Cairo, Egypt

British troops are now part of the problem
Colin, Reading, England
Simply withdrawing troops from Iraq would create a far worse problem. However, British troops are now part of the problem. Britain should publicly accept this, and ask other Arab nations to take over the front-line role, whilst offering full financial and/or logistic support. Even if Arab nations refused, the offer would show that Britain has no long-term interest in staying.
Colin, Reading, England

Leave now and leave a vacuum ready to be filled by terrorist training camps, ultimately bring the war to our door. Let's finish the job properly seeing as we saw fit to start it for whatever reason - the Iraq population deserve that much after so much suffering.
Alan Knipmeyer, Battle, England

This is another step along the road to chaos started by Messrs Bush and Blair. I can't see how the presence of a few thousand British troops is going to help stop the transition to an armed theocracy via further chaos and needless death. Best to walk away now; it will save both lives and money.
David, London

Hang on - two British soldiers were arrested by the legitimate Iraqi police force and a tank was used to break them out of jail? Am I missing something, or isn't that an outrageous attack on the very police force we are supposed to be bolstering and supporting? If Iraq has broken down to that extent, then surely something else must be done, because what is happening now is clearly not working.
Katherine, London, UK

Please be informed that the silent majority of the Basra population are grateful to the brave UK troops and they cannot trust anyone else. Do not leave Basra alone, please.
Mohammad, Basra, Iraq

This incident shows that we are not wanted by the establishment in Basra
Jeff, Amersham, UK
For me this is the final straw. I was against the war, but once it happened I supported coalition forces staying to clear up the mess we made. However, this incident shows that we are not wanted by the establishment in Basra. Bring the boys (and girls) home now.
Jeff, Amersham, UK

Better to leave while we still can. There is nothing else we can possibly achieve there, and we have already caused enough mayhem and damage. Just go home, as we have clearly long overstayed what little (if any) welcome there was.
Phil, Newcastle, UK

This disastrous situation goes from bad to worse with each day. British troops should leave immediately, they can be deployed with 24 hours notice so they can exit under the same terms. Leave America to fight the war it started on its own.
Jonathan McIver, London, UK

Our army must be careful not to be too heavy handed and risk further alienation
Dave, Chelmsford, UK
This is a dangerous development and our army must be careful not to be too heavy handed and risk further alienation. We will work with Iraqi authorities to find those responsible and deal with them. Now is not the time to leave. That would mean abandoning the innocent majority of Iraqi civilians to the power hungry, disruptive, anarchic few.
Dave, Chelmsford, UK

I didn't think we should go to war in Iraq, but now we are there, we need to make sure we help to keep the peace. We are there to do a job and now we have got to do it. Although saying that, my friend is a soldier and in Iraq and if I could I would have him home tomorrow because those pictures of soldiers jumping from tanks in flames is scary. We have to protect our troops. I must say, the whole situation has me torn, and the not knowing who is telling the truth just makes the whole situation worse.
Adele, Manchester

It seems like relations between the British army and Iraqi authorities in Basra had already broken down, otherwise this incident would not have occurred.
Mike, London, UK

As a father of a serving soldier, I feel it is time we leave the Iraqis to their own devices. The whole conflict has not been worth the blood of a single coalition soldier.
John, Dover, UK

What sure is that nobody will ever know the real version of events. Iraqis and British have a different story to tell, and I am very dubious of the coalition force narration. Nobody has mentioned the arrest of a cleric on Sunday that clearly triggered the present situation! This is a clear breakdown of trust and communication for the future, and I cannot see the situation improving.
David, Berlin, Germany

Iraq is a mess we created and now it is our responsibility to sort it out together with the Americans whether we like it or not. Pulling out at this stage would be irresponsible and a stab in the back to the Americans.
Richard, London, UK

We are not making the security situation any better
William, London, UK
Yes and soon. This incident should teach us a vital lesson about our presence in Southern Iraq. We are not making the security situation any better by being there, and beyond that we are actually in open conflict with the very Iraqi police and armed forces we are supposed to be training. Those who think a few British SAS characters running around undercover are going to solve Iraq's problems, have read too many Andy McNab books. Unfortunately, we are now depending on those leaders who got us into this mess, to get us out. Does anyone really believe that Bush and Blair are the men who will solve Iraq's massive problems? Their pride will stop them being honest and making the correct move to pull out.
William, London, UK

If this is a breakdown in civil relations then they must leave now. Hopefully the Iraqi authorities will request they go although I can't see this myself. Our troops can hold their heads high on having dealt with a difficult situation and an unpopular war with dignity, they've done us proud.
Terry, London, UK

If British and US troops left Iraq, law and order would break down. Iranian backed Shia militia would take charge of the south, Sunni backed militias would control the centre and the Kurdish militia would take charge of the north. There would be great loss of life and the only gainers would be the religious leaders. Until a strong central government is in place we are duty bound to continue the occupation.
Ian, Bradford UK

There are clearly problems in Iraq that need to be resolved. I don't think our troops can help. This war is more like a civil war now and Iraqi civilians and their government are the only people who should decide what to do. I think British presence, or any other, is making the situation worse.
Anon, London, England

The problems we are facing today stem from us not finishing the job first time round. If we pull out now things will only get worse and make any future resolution even more problematical.
Ged, Liverpool

There used to be 20,000 British forces, now there are 8500. Iraqi forces are steadily taking over in various areas. We are leaving: quite rightly we are not setting a single date for the last soldier to leave.
John, UK

Britain no longer has any business in Iraq. There are more pressing issues that need to be dealt with at home before trying to sort out the problems of our neighbours, in particular the oil producing nations!
Atul Kanabar, London, UK

I think the time to talk about withdrawing is when the trouble dies down, not when it flares up. Why do some people persist with the fantasy that everything in Iraq would suddenly be okay if the coalition withdrew? On what grounds do they say this?
Anthony Jones, Leeds, UK




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