Washington, Sept 29 (ANI): Senior American army officers have claimed that Britain's withdrawal of troops from Basra in Iraq in 2007 was a 'defeat,' which left the city 'terrorised' by militias.
General Jack Keane, who is a key adviser to the White House, has claimed that the UK had committed a "huge mistake" by pulling out its troops from Basra and leaving the inhabitants of the city to suffer at the hands of the insurgents.
"I think it was a huge mistake to pull out of Basra and to go out to the airfield and leave the people of Basra to be subjected to the Iranian surrogates who brutalised them, intimidated them, terrorised them," the BBC quoted General Keane, as saying.
Another US officer, Colonel Peter Mansoor, who worked directly for the US commander in Iraq at that time, also described Britain's withdrawal as "a defeat".
"I don't know that you could see the British withdrawal from Basra in 2007 in any light other than a defeat," Col Mansoor, who was executive officer to General David Petraeus, said.
After the invasion in 2003, the city of Basra appeared to be less violent than Baghdad and central Iraq. However, just a year before the troops were withdrawn, rebellion spread to the south and attacks on British forces increased. By 2007, it worsened as the British troops were attacked almost regularly through different ways like roadside bombs and rockets that were fired at their bases, the report said.
The British commander in southern Iraq, General Jonathan Shaw who negotiated the withdrawal with the local Shia militia leader in Basra, said that his actions were constrained by political considerations in London.
"I think the biggest problem was the political problem. There was America surging. There was Britain reducing force levels. Our political leaderships were moving in different directions and that was extremely awkward," he added. (ANI)