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Royal Scots are caught in warlords firefight; PICTURE EXCLUSIVE.

Byline: From BOB SHIELDS and TONY NICOLETTI in Basra

THE Royal Scots were caught in the middle of a firefight last night as rival warlords battled for power in southern Iraq.

With the threat of Saddam Hussein's return to power finally removed, a simmering feud erupted into a full scale battle.

Tracer rounds from heavy machine guns criss-crossed the night sky in Basra.

The Royal Scots, based in the southern port, were called out and fired 80 illumination rounds over the city to help allied snatch squads pinpoint the gunmen.

Eighteen arrests were made and four heavy machine guns and 20 Kalashnikov assault rifles were seized.

The Shalancheh border post with Iran also saw one of itsbusiest days for many years. Iraqis who had fled the country saw Saddam's arrest as a sign that it was at last safe to return to their homeland.

There was also a steady stream of pilgrims making trips to holy sites such as Kabala that had previously been denied to them under the old regime.

One border guard said: ``As long as Saddam was at large, people were in terror of him.

``When you have fled your homeland in fear of your life, it takes a lot of convincing to return.

``I think the border will be extremely busy now that his shadow is lifted from our country.''

CAPTION(S):

IN THE FIRING LINE: A Royal Scots mortar crew are lit up as their weapon launches an attack in last night's firefight in Basra
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 17, 2003
Words:250
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