BASRA, Sept 22: Basra city leaders vowed on Thursday not to cooperate with British forces until they received an apology and compensation for a late-night raid by British troops that freed two detained soldiers.

The governor of Iraq’s second largest city said a unanimous decision had been taken at a provincial council meeting late on Wednesday and it was now up to British forces to make a move to end the dispute that has fuelled anger towards foreign troops.

“The governing council ... decided to stop all cooperation with the British until they meet three demands,” Governor Mohammed al Waili said.

“To apologize for what happened, to guarantee that it does not happen again, and third, to provide some compensation for all the damage they did during the operation,” he said, referring to the crushing of jail walls by armoured vehicles.

Mr Waili said he expected the governing council to meet British military officials on Friday or Saturday. Stewart Innes, an official with Britain’s consulate in Basra, confirmed negotiations were planned, but did not say for when.

“We will enter negotiations with the (governing council) in order to reach a solution to our problems,” he told reporters.

British troops confined themselves to their barracks in and around Basra, lowering their profile in an effort to tamp down tensions caused by Monday’s raid.

Basra residents said British forces were nowhere to be seen on the city’s streets, whereas they would normally be involved in daily joint patrols with the Iraqi police and military.

A British serviceman reached by phone in Basra said troops were staying on base and keeping a deliberately low profile. —Reuters

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