British troops will not "cut and run" from Iraq after the latest attacks on them, Defense Secretary John Reid was quoted by the Daily Telegraphy as saying Wednesday.
"Troops are facing a dark time in Iraq but we won't quit," Reid said.
"We do not have designs to stay there as an occupying imperial power. Nor are we going to cut and run because of terrorists," Reid said.
"We will be there until conditions are met for a handover to the Iraqis, when they have sufficient forces. This will not be an event; it will be a process. It will not happen at the same time in every part of the country; it will happen over a period of time," added Reid.
On Monday, two British soldiers, who are reported to be undercover, were arrested by Iraqi authorities for firing at Iraqi policemen and held at a Basra police station.
After the arrests, two British tanks sent to the police station were set alight in clashes between British forces and protesters.
Later, British forces conducted a rescue operation, using the tanks to demolish a prison wall of the police station to release the soldiers.
Brigadier John Lorimer, commander of 12 Mechanized Brigade, said in a statement that he had become worried about the safety of the soldiers after being told that the police who arrested them had handed them over to "militia elements."
"This is unacceptable and I should stress that we will not hesitate to take action against those involved in planning and conducting attacks against coalition forces," he said.
The situation in Basra was reported to be "calm" on Tuesday, said the report.
Britain, a staunch US ally on the Iraq war, is positioning some 8,500 troops in Iraq, mostly based in the south of the country near Basra.