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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 April, 2003, 15:35 GMT 16:35 UK
First British-Iraqi police patrols begin
By Tom Newton Dunn
In Al Faw, southern Iraq

Marine Lee Howarth and Lieutenant Colonel Moyer Abdul Jabar walk side by side through the streets of Al Faw, to the fascination of a large crowd following them.

It was the first joint British military and Iraqi police patrol in the country.

A small beginning it might have been, as, at the moment, 45-year-old Lt Col Jabar is the only policeman in the 10,000-strong town, and he only took up the job on Saturday.

Marine Lee Howarth and Lieutenant Colonel Moyer Abdul Jabar
On duty: Marine Lee Howarth and Lt Col Moyer Abdul Jabar
On Friday, he was a fireman. But the Royal Marines - now tasked to restore the town 80 kilometres south of Basra to some kind of normality - believe it is the way forward to pull Iraq out of the destructive anarchy that the flight of Saddam Hussein's regime has left it in.

As the tools of the brutal Baath Party, the town's entire police force fled when the war began, leaving it without any law and order.

For the men of Bravo Company, 40 Commando, Saturday saw them return to Al Faw under very different circumstances than their last visit.

Just three weeks ago, they were shot by snipers with AK47s and RPGs from roof tops as they attempted to take these very same streets.

The town on the south eastern tip of Iraq was the very first patch of Iraqi soil captured by the coalition on the first night of the ground war, by a joint US Navy Seal and Royal Marine helicopter assault.

So it is fitting that Al Faw has now claimed another first, but in the war to now win the peace.

'Totally unrealistic'

Leading the patrol of 45 marines and one Iraqi, Captain Simon Rogers, 25, from Ashford in Kent, said: "British forces in Iraq haven't got anywhere near enough men to police Al Faw, Basra or any where else properly ourselves.

"It's just a totally unrealistic task. So we have to try to get the Iraqis to start doing it for themselves.

"Admittedly it is a bit chaotic today, and the locals seem to have found the sight hilarious. But we are sowing the seeds and that is what matters."

By last night a second policeman had been recruited, untarnished by any links to the former regime, and there are plans under way to sign up another 30.

  • This is a pooled report from Tom Newton Dunn, of the Daily Mirror in Al Faw, southern Iraq.


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