CHEERING crowds punching the air as columns of smoke billowed upwards yesterday symbolised another grim turn in the relationship between British forces and Iraqis after three years of occupation.

Minutes earlier, a British helicopter had exploded in a fireball after being shot out of the sky above Basra. Iraqi fire-fighting crews rushed to the scene and reported they had found charred bodies amid the wreckage.

British forces also headed for the area to seal it off while they recovered their dead and anything important from the helicopter. But they were met by a frenzied, jubilant mob.

As the UK forces arrived, backed by armoured vehicles, a hail of stones came from the crowd of hundreds. They jumped for joy and raised their fists in triumph as the plume of thick smoke rose into the air from the blazing crash site.

Scotland on Sunday

British “Undercover Soldiers” Caught driving Booby Trapped Car. “They refused to say what their mission was.

In today’s Guardian an article on clashes between Basra residents and the British army, following an helicopter crash in which 5 troops were killed explains that the tensions between the two sides arose last September after

British forces arrested two officials of Mahdi Army, the militia loyal to al-Sadr, raising tensions. About a week later, militiamen and residents clashed with British troops after two British soldiers in local clothes were detained by Iraqi authorities before being freed in a raid by British forces.

No mention of the fact that these British soldiers were SAS on a mission to “infiltrate” the Iraqi police as was reported by the disinformationalists at the time. The Guardian article is useful for the way in which it tries to obscure this earlier incident and to shift responsibility for the rage of local people to the Mehdi army.

The UK Independent writes

The two seized British undercover soldiers were gathering intelligence on one of the most menacing of the police/militia factions, “the Jameat” force within the force numbering several hundred, and suspected of abductions, torture and murders.

No mention of the explosives, the detonators, the disguise.

How was this reported at the time?

BAGHDAD, Sept. 19 (Xinhuanet) — Iraqi police detained two British soldiers in civilian clothes in the southern city Basra for firing on a police station on Monday, police said.

“Two persons wearing Arab uniforms opened fire at a police station in Basra. A police patrol followed the attackers and captured them to discover they were two British soldiers,” an Interior Ministry source told Xinhua.

The two soldiers were using a civilian car packed with explosives, the source said.

He added that the two were being interrogated in the police headquarters of Basra.

The British forces informed the Iraqi authorities that the two soldiers were performing an official duty, the source said. British military authorities said they could not confirm the incident but investigations were underway. Enditem

Two SAS soldiers were freed from a jail in Basra under the watch of British armoured vehicles last night a few hours after they were seized by Iraqis during the worst riots in Iraq’s second city in two years.

The two freed SAS troopers had been arrested in Basra while patrolling under-cover in Arab clothes

They had been wearing Arab clothes when they were arrested in the southern city by a Shia militia loyal to the Iraqi government.

Telegraph

TWO SAS soldiers rescued last week after being arrested by Iraqi police and handed over to a militia were engaged in a “secret war” against insurgents bringing sophisticated bombs into the country from Iran.

The men had left their base near the southern Iraqi city of Basra to carry out reconnaissance and supply a second patrol with “more tools and fire power”, said a source with knowledge of their activities.

They had been in Basra for seven weeks on an operation prompted by intelligence that a new type of roadside bomb which has been used against British troops was among weapons being smuggled over the Iranian border.

The bombs, designed to pierce the armour beneath coalition vehicles, are similar to ones supplied by Iran to Hezbollah, the Islamic militant group.

“Since the increase in attacks against UK forces two months ago, a 24-strong SAS team has been working out of Basra to provide a safety net to stop the bombers getting into the city from Iran,” said one source. “The aim is to identify routes used by insurgents and either capture or kill them.”

Times Online

It is always interesting to see what is left out of a story such as the capture of the two British SAS men last , disguised as Sadr’s militia, their car packed with weapons, explosives and remote control detonators, described by the BBC as “standard kit for British special forces.” Why were they dressed as members of the Mehdi army, what were they planning to do with the explosives and did they hope to stir up sectarian hatred? Such obvious questions were never aired in the Western media.

A definitive report here

Addendum

8th May 2006, today’s Independentreports

The weekend’s scenes, with Iraqis throwing rocks and petrol bombs at British troops and chanting in support of Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mehdi Army were reminiscent of last September when British forces clashed with Iraqi police while rescuing two SAS men from Iraqi detention. The two had been gathering intelligence on Iraqi police officers who were widely suspected of abduction, murders and torture.

Interestingly, the Independent spends considerable time planting the meme that the Mehdi and Badr paramilitary armies are being supported by Iranian Shia.

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