Iraq PM: Get Brit troops out of Iraq

British troops are no longer needed in southern Iraq, according to prime minister Nouri al-Maliki

Mr al-Maliki told the Times newspaper that apart from few troops potentially needed for training and technical issues, the rest of the 4,100 troops stationed in Iraq were not needed.

“We thank them for the role they have played, but I think that their stay is not necessary for maintaining security and control,” he said.

“There might be a need for their experience in training and some technological issues, but as a fighting force, I don’t think that is necessary.”

He also criticised the decision to move British troops away from Basra palace to their base at the airport.

“At the time Basra was not under control of the local government, but in the hands of the gangs and militias … [British forces] stayed away from the confrontation, which gave the gangs and the militias the chance to control the city.

“The situation deteriorated so badly that corrupted youths were carrying swords and cutting the throats of women and children. The citizens of Basra called out for our help… and we moved to regain the city.”

The Iraqi prime minister added that there had no consultation over agreements to stop attacks against Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi army earlier this year.

“Of course we were not comfortable and we conveyed our discomfort and regarded it as the beginning of a disaster,” he said.

“Had they told us that they wanted to do this, we would have consulted with them and come up with the best possible decision. But when they acted alone the problem happened.”