Iraq: Basra invites British back for security role; US will help but no troops

Anxious to rid itself of the lawlessness that still plagues Iraq’s southern capital, Basra’s governor has hired a private military company run by a British general who helped capture the city from Saddam Hussein.

Maj Gen Graham Binns, who is the chief executive of Aegis Defence Services, commanded the 7th Armoured Brigade when it led the siege of Basra in 2003.

Four years later he supervised the handover of the city to Iraqi security forces. Now, amid growing concern about a fresh wave of terrorist violence across the country, Basra’s governor has invited Maj Gen Binns’s company back to assist at a “strategic level”.

Aegis will be asked to provide help with setting up specialised CCTV detection and checkpoint systems across the city, establishing a “ring of steel” security system to thwart suicide bombers.

It will also set up an academy to help security forces improve coordination and intelligence-gathering techniques.

Burnt-out trucks are seen littering the side of the main highway leading west out of Baghdad to the city of Fallujah on January 5, 2014

Related: The United States will support the Iraqi government and tribes fighting al Qaeda-linked Sunni Muslim militants in Anbar province but will not send U.S. troops back to Iraq, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday.

Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda and tribal fighters have taken control of Ramadi and Falluja, the main cities in the Sunni Muslim-dominated province of Anbar, which adjoins Syria, in a serious challenge to the Shi’ite-led government’s authority.

While pledging to help Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s government, he made clear there was no question of U.S. troops returning to Iraq. The United States withdrew its troops from Iraq in 2011 after failing to reach agreement with Maliki’s government on a continuing presence.

“This is a fight that belongs to the Iraqis,” he said. “We’re not contemplating putting boots on the ground. This is their fight, but we’re going to help them in their fight.”

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