Tuesday, September 20, 2005

UK Defense Ministry Admits Using Force To Free Soldiers in Iraq "Britain Admits it Used Force To Rescue Two Soldiers" -- AFP headline

Another report from Agence-France Presse regarding the rescue of two British soldiers held by militia in Iraq.


UK Defense Ministry Admits Using Force To Free Soldiers in Iraq "Britain Admits it Used Force To Rescue Two Soldiers" -- AFP headline

LONDON, Sep 20 (AFP) -- The British government admitted Tuesday ( 20 September) its troops smashed into a British-allied Iraqi police jail in a bid to rescue two detained soldiers but only after it said negotiations for their release had failed.

The ministry of defense said in a statement that it turned out that the prisoners were not inside the police jail but the troops obtained intelligence that allowed them to rescue the pair in a house in the city of Basra.

"Two British soldiers were detained and taken to an Iraqi police station," a defense ministry spokesman said.

"We then started negotiating with the Iraqi authorities for their release.

"We understand that the authorities ordered their release.

"Unfortunately they weren't released and we became concerned for their safety and as a result a Warrior infantry fighting vehicle broke down the perimeter wall in one place.

"Our guys went in there and searched it from top to bottom in order to go and recover our two soldiers who had been detained," he said.

"They weren't there unfortunately but we did obtain intelligence that pointed to where they were.

"We then launched another operation to recover them, from a house in Basra."

The ministry of defense late Monday told AFP only that "we're certainly not denying it but we're not confirming it either."

The operation followed a shooting incident and riots in which two British armoured vehicles were torched as their crews fled for safety in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

British Defense Secretary John Reid said that the soldiers seen emerging from a burning tank under mob attack suffered only minor injuries -- despite violent scenes which stunned British newspapers.

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