Britain ends combat operations in IraqApril 30th, 2009 - 10:30 pm ICT by IANS
London, April 30 (IANS) Britain Thursday ended its six-year-old combat mission in Iraq but Prime Minister Gordon Brown faced immediate calls for an inquiry into the war despite labelling it a “success”.
“Today’s Iraq is a success story. We owe much of that to the efforts of British troops,” Brown said in London as his defence minister participated in a ceremony in the southern Iraqi province of Basra in honour of the 179 British soldiers who died in Iraq.
After a meeting with his Iraqi opposite number Nouri Maliki, the British leader said Iraq had held successful provincial elections in January with 14,000 candidates in the fray, and seen its economy grow by 10 percent.
But with ordinary Britons remaining deeply divided over the invasion of Iraq, opposition Conservative Party leader David Cameron immediately called for an inquiry into the Iraq war, similar to the one carried out by the Franks Committee into the Falklands conflict.
“After years of foot-dragging, I believe it is the time for the government to announce a proper Franks-style inquiry. Instead of starting in many months’ time, it should start right now.”
“There are vital lessons to learn and we need to learn them rapidly and the only justification for delay can, I’m afraid, be a political one,” said Cameron, whose party leads ruling Labour in most opinion polls.
Britain began withdrawing its 4,000 troops from Iraq at the end of March.
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