LONDON (AFP) - British troops are no longer necessary for the security of Iraq and should go home, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said in a newspaper interview published here Monday. "We thank them for the role they have played, but I think that their stay is not necessary for maintaining security and control," he told the Times. "There might be a need for their experience in training and some technological issues, but as a fighting force, I don't think that is necessary." Maliki also criticised the decision by Britain earlier this year to move its troops from a palace in Basra, which came under British responsibility after the 2003 US-led invasion, to their base at the airport. "At the time Basra was not under control of the local government, but in the hands of the gangs and militias (British forces) stayed away from the confrontation, which gave the gangs and the militias the chance to control the city," he said. He added: "The situation deteriorated so badly that corrupted youths were carrying swords and cutting the throats of women and children. The citizens of Basra called out for our help... and we moved to regain the city." Asked by the newspaper whether he thought Britain's move had been premature, he said: "Very." The prime minister also criticised Britain's deal with Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, Iraq's largest Shiite militia, to stop mortar and rocket attacks. "Of course we were not comfortable and we conveyed our discomfort and regarded it as the beginning of a disaster," he said. "Had they told us that they wanted to do this, we would have consulted with them and come up with the best possible decision. But when they acted alone the problem happened." Maliki said crisis was averted by his decision to send thousands of Iraqi forces into the city. However, he said coalition forces "did provide help and it was important" and said that despite the disagreements, "the Iraqi arena is open for British companies and British friendship". "Our relationship now is good and we are working to improve it further in other fields as we take over responsibility for security," Maliki said. Meanwhile, The US military said it had detained on Monday six suspected insurgents in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, the scene of some of the worst violence against Christians in five years. It said in a statement that three of those seized during operations in the city are believed to have links to foreign insurgency groups. "One of the wanted men is believed to be in contact with a foreign terrorist responsible for carrying out attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces," it added. While, more than 200 Iraqi doctors in the city of Karbala who say they have received death threats after unsuccessful medical procedures have closed their clinics in protest, their leader said on Monday. "More than 200 doctors closed their clinics and stopped their work after they received death threats," Ali Abu Taheen, head of the doctors' association in the southern city, said in a statement emailed to AFP. The doctors, who also work in Karbala's largest public hospital, the Al-Hussein, 100 kilometres south of Baghdad, say they will strike until the government guarantees their safety. Angry families of patients who died during surgery must stop asking for financial compensation and recognise that medical procedures often do not meet expectations, Taheen said.