A video purporting to be of British soldiers beating a group of Iraqi teenagers has been swiftly condemned by the UK government and the country’s military. The video, released by the newspaper The News of the World, is said to be of an incident two years ago in Southern Iraq. It appears to show soldiers brutally attacking youngsters while the cameraman laughs.
The paper claims a so-called whistleblower passed on the images after the soldiers filmed themselves, providing their own commentary. It also says it has established that the soldiers involved were British but has not disclosed which unit or regiment is allegedly involved. The authenticity of the images has not been independently verified. In the past, photographs published by another British newspaper apparently showing soldiers abusing Iraqi detainees were found to be fakes.
But last year three British soldiers were jailed for abuse in a separate incident. The UK government quickly described the video as “unacceptable if it was true”. Speaking from South Africa, Prime Minister Tony Blair said: “We take seriously any allegations of mistreatment, and those will be investigated very fully indeed. But I want to say to you that the overwhelming majority of British troops in Iraq as elsewhere behave properly are doing a great job for our country and the wider world.”
More than 80,000 British troops have served in Iraq since 2003. A military spokesman based in the Iraqi town of Basra expressed hopes that the images would not adversly affect the mainly good relations the troops have tried to develop.