Saturday, March 29, 2008

British ground forces join fighting in Basra as ICRC voice concerns over impact on civilians

British ground forces have joined the fighting in Basra to bolster the offensive by Iraqi government forces against the Mehdi Army. [BBC]

On the same day the International Committe of the Red Cross is concerned about the humanitarian impact of continued fighting in Basra and Baghdad. Its staff in the two cities say that many people are running out of food and water and most shops are reported to be closed. The supply of electricity in Basra and in parts of Baghdad is intermittent or has been cut and hospitals are running out of medical stocks, food and fuel.

Patients' families are reportedly bringing their own small generators to some hospitals in the capital to ensure sufficient power supplies during treatment. Many medical workers are unable to reach hospitals because of the continuing fighting. [ICRC]

A spokesman for the British army, Maj Holloway, said that the action against militiamen in the Basra area was a "complicated operation". "I think we need to be prepared for this to run for a while", he said. [BBC]