The headmistress of a girls’ school in Sadr City was forced to send her students home because of an upturn in violence in the Baghdad neighborhood on Thursday. As fighting rages on in the Iraqi capital, Britain announced it would halt the withdrawal of its 4,500 troops from the Basra area because of clashes with Shiite militias.
VOICE OF ZAA NKWETA, PRESENTER: At least 13 people were killed in Baghdad on Thursday in ongoing fighting between Shiite militiamen and Iraqi- and US-led forces. The threatening upturn in violence prompted the headmistress of a local school in Sadr City to send her female students home.
BATOOL RASHEED, SCHOOLGIRL (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): We cannot complete our studies. We hope that the prime minister listens to our voices, and works towards a solution. Services are so bad. We wake up and sleep to bangs and explosions that makes us absent minded and unable to focus on our studies.
NKWETA: Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, held closed-door meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad. Britain announced on Thursday it would put a freeze on troop withdrawals from Iraq, due to an upsurge in fighting with Shiite militias. Around 4,500 British troops are based in Iraq, most of them at an airport camp near the southern city of Basra. Britain suspended plans to withdraw about 1,500 troops this spring after fighting broke out last month between Iraqi forces and Shiite militiamen. Britain’s Defense Secretary, Des Browne, on Thursday acknowledged Iraqi soldiers being trained by British troops are months away from being ready to deploy.
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