British forces in Iraq back abuse probe

British forces based in Iraq backed the investigation into alleged abuse by some of its troops in the south two years ago, a military spokesman said today.

The military police probe was launched after the News of the World newspaper claimed to have received video footage allegedly showing British troops using their fists and batons to beat a group of young Iraqis.

“We condemn all acts of abuse and brutality,” said Flight Lt Chris Thomas, a military spokesman in Basra, where most of the 8,000-plus British troops in Iraq are based.

“We hope that the good relations that the multinational forces have worked very hard to develop won’t be adversely affected by this material.”

Thomas said the allegations related “to only a tiny number of the 80,000 personnel that have served in Iraq”.

The newspaper says the video was filmed in 2004 by a corporal who urged the soldiers on during the alleged attack caught on tape, which it claimed was passed on by a whistleblower, who they have refused to identify.

It was unclear how news of the video will impact upon relations between British troops in southern Iraq and locals. Thomas declined to provide details on which units were based in Basra two years ago.

In recent times, ties have been strained with some Iraqi figures complaining about British detentions of local policemen linked to numerous kidnappings and killings, as well as British security control over Basra International Airport.

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