About 60 Britons withdrew from an Iraqi police base in Basra this weekend, marking the first step in British troops’ exodus from the city. The BBC reports that the troops’ overnight departure caused some confusion as to who assumed control of the base, and British and Iraqi officials are denying reports that militant members of Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army took over the outpost following the British pullout.
Witnesses told the Associated Press the Mahdi Army emptied the building taking generators, computers, furniture and even cars.
Major Michael Shearer told the BBC News website that officers from the Multi-National Force spoke to the local Iraqi Army commander who “assured us that the PJCC is under his control and being efficiently run by the Iraqi Army. He also stated that all the equipment remains within the PJCC”.
An MoD spokesman said there was a green Shia flag flying on the building, but not the black flag associated with the Mahdi Army.