BRITISH SOLDIERS serving in post-war Iraq have angrily rejected claims made by Iraqis in the town of al-Majar al-Kabir that British troops used dogs in house searches to sniff out explosives, flouting strict Muslim cultural laws.
. They claim that this was one of the reasons why tempers were boiling over in the town as British soldiers took part in searches for hidden weapons. But military sources said that troops had been schooled in the sensitivities of Muslim culture and rejected any suggestion that soldiers would have entered Iraqi homes with dogs.
One source said: "We dont even wear sunglasses in the presence of Iraqis, because we know there is a belief that they somehow have X-ray powers and we would be able to see through womens clothes. Were fantastically sensitive to Muslim cultures and traditions."
The task is a role undertaken by specialists from the Royal Engineers who are trained to hunt for arms and explosives.
However they, like all British soldiers now in Iraq, are under the strictest orders to observe local customs and to treat all Iraqis with respect.
Muslims do not normally keep dogs as pets like Westerners, although they can be used to guard properties.
They would not become domestic animals, allowed to live inside a family home. Although dogs are mentioned in the Koran, Muslims regard them as dirty animals.
British troops in Northern Ireland engaged in arms searches have always used dogs because they can be trained to sniff out explosives.
However, the military sources said: "Its inconceivable that we would have used dogs in searching Iraqi homes in al-Majar al-Kabir, because we know this would cause offence."