Father of tragic soldier backs Iraq move

THE father of a Colchester-based soldier who lost his life fighting in Iraq has welcomed the decision to withdraw troops from the war zone.

Lizzie Parry

THE father of a Colchester-based soldier who lost his life fighting in Iraq has welcomed the decision to withdraw troops from the war zone.

Lance-Corporal Thomas Keys, 20, of Llanuwchllyn, North Wales, a Red Cap from 156 Provost Company at Colchester Garrison, was killed along with five colleagues by a mob in southern Iraq in June 2003.

Last night, his father Reg Keys said he was pleased at the news announced yesterday by the Government to withdraw around 4,100 troops currently serving in Basra.

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“My immediate reaction is that it is good news. I feel strongly that it was a catastrophic political blunder to go into Iraq.

“I think maybe the Government have come to their senses and realised all that can be achieved has been, given the numbers of troops.”

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Mr Keys welcomed the call for a full inquiry into the war and said he believed coalition troops had de-stabilised the country.

“I think the country will just crumble into what it was before, democracy will not last there,” he said. “There is already a new system in its embryonic stage; once coalition forces are withdrawn I think it will just deteriorate.

“We have created a far more dangerous country with open porous borders, all that has been created is a ground for breeding terrorism, we have destabilised the country.

“The reason for invasion was weapons of mass destruction not a regime change and I absolutely welcome a full inquiry into the decision to go to war.”

Bernard Jenkin, Conservative MP for North Essex emphasised the need to remember those who sacrificed their lives to serve in the war-torn region.

He said: “We must always remember those who sacrificed everything in service of the British Armed Forces in Iraq and those who will live with their injuries for the rest of their lives.

“History will judge the removal of Saddam Hussein as a success though clearly there are some lessons to learn from a full inquiry.”

Bob Russell, Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester, added his tributes to those who had fought in the “ill advised war.”

“I voted against the war, an ill-advised invasion by Tony Blair and the Americans but that said as soon as hostilities commenced I gave 100% support to Her Majesty's armed forces particularly those from the Colchester Garrison involved in the original invasion and over the years in their peace-keeping roles.

“I pay tribute to all members of the armed forces who served in Iraq, in particular those who lost their lives and those who were badly injured.

“The aim was not regime change - it was allegedly to locate and destroy weapons of mass destruction, which it transpired did not exist.

“I think the British should apologise, I am in favour of a full inquiry and I am amongst those who think there is a case against Tony Blair for war crimes.”

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