British military: Basra council has cut ties

Basra provincial council has suspended relations with the British over the alleged 2004 abuse of Iraqis by British soldiers in southern Iraq, a British military spokesman said Tuesday. Capt. James St. John-Price said the Basra provincial authorities severed contacts on Monday, a day after footage emerged showing several Iraqi youths allegedly being beaten by British soldiers in Amarah. "The (Basra) provincial council has decided to suspend relations with the British," St. John-Price told The Associated Press. "We are unsure if this includes diplomatic and economic ties also." It was also unclear if Iraqi police forces, which had been conducting joint-patrols with British forces, would heed the council decision to cut ties, St. John-Price said. "We are hopeful that the IPS (Iraqi police services) will keep carrying out joint-patrols," he said. He said he was uncertain if Iraqi police, which are under the control of the national government in Baghdad, had decided to stop cooperating with the British military in Basra, where the bulk of Britain's more than 8,000 forces are based.