Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Stating the obvious

Iraqis say Basra quieter after British troop pullout:
BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) - Residents of Iraq's southern city of Basra have begun strolling riverfront streets again after four years of fear, their city much quieter since British troops withdrew from the grand Saddam Hussein-era Basra Palace.

Political assassinations and sectarian violence continue, some city officials say, but on a much smaller scale than at any time since British troops moved into the city after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Mortar rounds, rockets and small arms fire crashed almost daily into the palace, making life hazardous for British and Iraqis alike in Iraq's second-largest city. To many Basrans the withdrawal of the British a month ago removed a proven target.

"The situation these days is better. We were living in hell ... the area is calm since their withdrawal," said housewife Khairiya Salman, who lives near the palace.

Civil servant Wisam Abdul Sada agreed. "We do not hear the sounds of explosions which were shaking our houses and terrifying our women and children," he told Reuters.

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