Searching for joy on the streets of Basra

A powerful three-part BBC drama, 'Occupation', tracing the lives of three British soldiers in Iraq, was inspired by an ancient Iraqi poem, says the writer Peter Bowker

Soldiers invade Classical Brits

An album recorded in sweltering conditions on a British air base in Basra has scooped one of classical music's top prizes at last night's Classical Brit Awards.

Basra on suicide watch after deaths

British troops in Basra have been put on an unprecedented "suicide watch" following the death of three soldiers from self-inflicted gunshot wounds in just over two months.

A moment for truth as Britain exits Iraq

Gordon Brown says British troops will leave Iraq by July. But after six years of occupation, 178 British deaths, as well as countless Iraqi casualties, there is growing pressure for an independent inquiry into the causes, conduct and cost of war

Without fanfare or much thanks, Britain departs from Iraq

Five years and 10 months after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Gordon Brown yesterday announced a date for Britain's final disengagement from the most bitter, controversial military involvement of recent history. He made the momentous announcement during a brief visit to the country during which the details of the withdrawal of the last remaining 4,100-strong force were settled with the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

British troops to start Iraq pullout in March

Britain will begin withdrawing its 4,100-strong force from Iraq by the beginning of March, with almost all troops leaving within a few months, a senior defence source revealed yesterday. The Prime Minister is expected to announce the pullout that, in effect, ends the UK's engagement in one of the most controversial wars in recent times, in the Commons next January.

Maj-Gen Barney White-Spunner: Very modern Major General

After the rout of the insurgents in March, the region around Basra has finally seen some stability. So, when can we pull out? Hold your horses, says the UK's returning top soldier in Iraq. The threat and the needs are changing. More than military muscle is needed. James Hanning meets... Maj-Gen Barney White-Spunner

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Harper Regan, National Theatre: Cottesloe, London

In his last play, Motortown, Simon Stephens sent a squaddie, newly returned from Basra, on a brutal, alienated road trip through an England that had become a foreign country to him. There's a similarly picaresque and circular structure to his new play, Harper Regan, but this time it's a female protagonist who embarks on the journey.

America's allies in Iraq under pressure as civil war breaks out among

"God is Great," screamed a man seconds before he blew himself up, killing 10 people in a restaurant in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province in western Iraq. A series of suicide bombings have shown over the past week that al-Qa'ida in Iraq, though battered by defections over the past year, is striking back remorselessly at Sunni Arab leaders who ally themselves to the US.

Iraqis free kidnapped British journalist

A British journalist held for two months by kidnappers in the southern Iraqi city of Basra was rescued today by Iraqi forces sweeping through the city in a crackdown on militants, the Iraqi military said.