British forces have relocated to the Basra airport, leaving Iraq’s No. 2 city in the hands of Iraqis for the first time since the invasion. For many locals, it was a welcome withdrawal: “We are pleased that the Iraqi army are now taking over the situation. We as an Iraqi people reject occupation. We reject colonialism. We want our freedom,” one resident told the AP.
AP via LA Times:
Iraqi soldiers hoisted the nation’s flag over the Basra palace compound today after British troops withdrew from their last garrison in the city, a move that will hand control to an Iraqi force riddled with Shiite militiamen.
A British statement said the operation began at 10 p.m. Sunday “with all British troops arriving at the airport by midday” today.
“There were no clashes or attacks on British forces during the operation. The formal handing-over of the Palaces will happen in the near future,” British spokesman Maj. Matthew Bird said.