Major General Andy Salmon, the commander of British troops in Iraq, said violent crime had fallen to such an extent in the country's second city that it was “less dangerous” than Manchester.
Maj Gen Salmon told a newspaper: “On a per-capita basis, if you look at the violence statistics, it is less dangerous than Manchester.”
The comments sparked bemusement from members of the Making Manchester Safer partnership - made up of organisations such as the city council, Greater Manchester Police and the fire and probation services.
A police source said the force's top brass laughed at the Royal Marine Commando's comparison and described it as “nonsense and unrealistic”.
The force did not want to make an official comment but issued figures showing from 1 January 2008 to 16 November 2008 there were 46 murders across the patch.
Police added that a “significant” proportion of those were committed by people who knew their victims.