Britain's Ministry of Defense has apologized for the 2003 death of an Iraqi teen who drowned after being forced into a canal by four British soldiers.

Officials said Friday the department is "extremely sorry" for the death of 15-year-old Ahmad Jabbar Kareem Ali, who had been taken into custody by British forces on suspicion of looting in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

An independent inquiry into the death led by a former High Court judge said the soldiers' failure to help the boy after he started to drown was the "certain" cause of his death. He did not know how to swim.

The soldiers were tried in a British court for manslaughter and were acquitted in 2006.