Shi'ite fighters from the Mahdi Army took over the police joint command center in Basra on Sunday after British soldiers withdrew from the facility and handed control to the Iraqi police, witnesses said.
Police left the building when the fighters, loyal to anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, arrived. The group was still controlling the facility as of late afternoon.
The British military had maintained a small number of soldiers at the command center to help train Iraqi police. However, the British withdrew Saturday night "in the framework of the plan for the handover" of British positions in the city to Iraqi control, said British spokesman Maj. Matthew Bird.