Source Sky News - http://news.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30000-13557248,00.html
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has arrived in Basra for a Christmas visit to Britain's 7,000 troops in southern Iraq.
It was the Prime Minister's fifth visit to British troops deployed around Iraq's second city, including every Christmas since the 2003 war.
Earlier, Mr Blair held talks with Iraq's Prime Minister and President in Baghdad and pledged to "stand four-square" behind them in their struggle with insurgents.
At a joint press conference with Nouri al Maliki, Mr Blair reaffirmed his "determination" that the newly-created democracy in Iraq would not be "destroyed by terrorism and sectarianism".
And, he added that the operation to hand over security responsibility from British to Iraqi forces in Basra was "going well".
But he became visibly rattled by a question from Sky News Political Editor Adam Boulton which described the "ghastly situation" in Iraq of "the greatest amount of bloodshed...created by the American and British invasion".
Shaking his head, Mr Blair told gathered reporters: "The bloodshed is created by terrorsts, insurgents and former supporters of Saddam Hussein - people trying to stop Iraqis from getting the democracy they wanted.
"However difficult it is, our response is to stand up to them not give in to them."
There had been Whitehall whispers that the handover of the last two British-controlled provinces in the south of Iraq might be completed by the spring, but Mr Blair would not be drawn to detail or timings.
He said: "As soon as the Iraqi forces are capable of taking over Basra our forces will stand down."
The Prime Minister's Middle Eastern tour has also taken in Turkey and Egypt but has so far concentrated on the situation in the Palestinian Authority.
He urged the international community to support Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has called for fresh elections.
The peace process stalled following Hamas' victory in January's poll, which preceeded an increase in violence in the Palestinian Authority.