More than 1,000 British troops carried out a dawn raid on a police station in the southern Iraqi city of Basra after receiving intelligence that dozens of prisoners were being tortured and faced imminent execution.
In the latest violent episode in a city increasingly riven by conflict, the troops, supported by helicopters and Iraqi forces, killed seven gunmen and demolished Jamiat police station, the headquarters of the serious crimes unit. Yesterday's attack, described by Major Charlie Burbridge as a "very significant move", was the climax of a British operation against the unit which had seen the arrests last week of several senior members.
The raid also highlighted the parlous state of the increasingly beleaguered Iraqi police force. Despite the British Ministry of Defence's insistence that Britain's exit strategy from Iraq relies upon building a strong Iraqi police and army, senior officers have begun in recent months to admit that there is a "small rotten core" within the Basra police. This comes as no surprise to locals, who have long claimed that the force is heavily infiltrated by insurgents and is responsible for the vast majority of murders in Iraq's second city.
A "small rotten core"? Why do those military types always make apple-related analogies? Abu Ghraib: just 'a few bad apples'. Right. Let's get real. The whole flipping orchard is rotten and no amount of quick training is going to remedy the situation across Iraq any time soon. It's been 3 years and the so-called training of the Iraqi police forces by western contractors like DynCorp has been useless. Another example of 'stay the course until the place explodes' ideology that has cost thousands of people their lives.
The Christmas Day operation against Jamiat police station had been planned since July but intelligence that indicated an imminent threat to prisoners forced British military leaders to act more quickly. After British and Iraqi troops surrounded the building after midnight, prisoners were found crowded into a cell, living in "appalling conditions", British forces said. Many had crushed feet or hands and gunshot wounds to the knee, apparently signs of torture. They were given medical assessments and transferred to another police station.
Again. Why did the Brits wait so damn long? And who is going to assure the security of the so-called prisoners at the next police station? Another example of the hell that is an extremely poorly planned war, brought to you by the neocons who never get their hands dirty as they sit in their ivory fortresses, sipping cognac and writing up their fantasy doctrines that do nothing but destroy innocent lives.