The British commander in Basra has insisted he was "completely unrepentant" about the Christmas Day operation led by the Staffordshire Regiment to demolish a notorious police station.
Major General Richard Shirreff said Operation Thyme had marked a turning point in the battle with Basra's death squads.
More than 1,000 troops from 19 Light Brigade - including a 500-strong battalion consisting of the Staffordshire Regiment - swooped on the Jameat station in the early hours raid amid rumours that dozens of prisoners were about to be executed.
There had been fears of repercussions against the captives after leading members of the Serious Crimes Unit were arrested on suspicion of corruption and leading a death squad.
Maj Gen Shirreff said yesterday: "I'm completely unrepentant about Operation Thyme. It was a brilliantly-executed, brilliantly-run operation by 19 Brigade.
"It was a really important operation because this was the moment where we, together with the Iraqis, are seen to be confronting the Serious Crimes Unit and the death squad organisations in Basra, making it absolutely clear that there is no room for these people in the future Iraq. And we will continue to hunt these people down and eradicate them."
Operation Thyme, one of the biggest led by the UK since the 2003 invasion, was part of a drive to stamp out renegade Shiite militia elements believed to have infiltrated police operating from the Jameat compound.
A total of 127 prisoners - some thought to have been tortured - were removed from the premises and taken to other secure locations while hundreds of seized files and computers were examined for evidence.
The mission came 15 months after the Staffords went to rescue two SAS soldiers held captive at Jameat; one of the troops, a gunner from Tipton named Karl Hinett, was petrol bombed.
A spokesman for the regiment in Basra said they had seen the Christmas Day mission as "finishing the job".
British forces said the operation had the backing of the Iraqi government in Baghdad and the provincial governor but it appeared to have renewed tensions with local politicians.
Maj Gen Shirreff said objections to the raid were coming from "frightened men" who were "intimidated by the militias".
"To some extent it was inevitable," he said, adding that the governor of Basra and the imam of the city's main Shiite mosque had called him to offer their support.
The Foreign Office conceded yesterday that some elements of the city's council were unhappy about the actions but said the UK and the Iraqi government would explain the reasons for them.