in a statement, brig lorimer said that under iraqi law the soldiers should have been handed over to coalition authorities, but this failed to happen despite repeated requests.
"i had good reason to believe that the lives of the soldiers were at risk and troops were sent to the area of basra near the police station to help ensure their safety by providing a cordon," brig lorimer said.
british army vehicles under attack during bid to recover arrested servicemen
"as shown on television these troops were attacked with firebombs and rockets by a violent and determined crowd.
"later in the day, however, i became more concerned about the safety of the two soldiers after we received information that they had been handed over to militia elements."
after troops broke into the police station to confirm the men were not there, they staged a rescue from a house in basra, said the commanding officer of 12 mechanised brigade in basra. brig lorimer added: "it is of deep concern that british soldiers held by the police should then end up being held by the militia. this is unacceptable."