British troops have finished withdrawing from Basra, leaving Iraq's second largest city without a foreign security force for the first time since the 2003 invasion. Britain's Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, says this shouldn't be seen as a sign of defeat.
The 500 troops withdrew to another base at the Basra International Airport outside the city, which is located near oil fields.
Iraqi soldiers are manning the gates of the downtown base, which was built on Saddam Hussein's palace. This location has been a target of insurgent mortar and rocket attacks, which Iraqi commanders hope will stop now. Britain says it still has enough presence in the area to provide security.
U.S officials have raised concerns about British troops leaving the city.
Iraqis are cheering the British departure, with one man declaring, ``we want our freedom.''