Signs of resentment against British forces surrounding Basra are bubbling to the surface as Iraq's second city seethes under bombing and shell-fire.
"People see this as an occupation. If the government gives us weapons we will fight the Americans and the British," one local man at a British checkpoint said yesterday.
Families continue to leave Basra in southern Iraq. (AFP/POOL/Dan Chung)
Contrary to American and British expectations, many of the 1.5 million populationare directing their resentment at the invading forces, rather than the regime of Saddam Hussein. "They came here and they bombed innocent families," one man said.
"The Americans and British fired their weapons at our electricity pylons. They cut off fresh water supplies from near the airport," another man said. "Why?"
"The government brought back the electricity two days ago. It is turned off a few hours a day but the service is back."
One young man repeated reports of an uprising against Saddam Hussein in the city several days ago. He said that up to 15 people had been killed, though this could not be confirmed. "The forces of the Iraqi regime seem to be losing day by day but they are still in the city," he added. "Nobody can say Saddam is bad."
His comments showed that fear of the regime remains strong.
© 2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd