Britain's Iraq inquiry to report in late 2011: chairman

12th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

The official British inquiry into the Iraq war will publish its conclusions by the end of the year but not before October, the chairman said Thursday.

John Chilcot had previously refused to say when the five-member panel would publish its report on Britain's role in the 2003 US-led invasion, saying only that it would do it as soon as possible.

In a statement Thursday, Chilcot said: "My colleagues and I hope to present our report to the prime minister later this year but not before parliament's summer recess," which ends in October.

The inquiry was set up to learn lessons from the conflict, in which 179 British troops died. More than 100,000 Iraqi civilians died in the conflict, according to the NGO Iraq Body Count.

Chilcot said: "Writing a report covering so wide and complex a time period necessarily takes time.

"Whilst writing the report, we are also simultaneously seeking the declassification of much relevant material so the public will understand why and how the inquiry has reached its conclusions.

"If the Iraq inquiry chooses to make criticisms, as is the case with all public inquiries, this would necessarily involve further processes to give those criticised the opportunity to respond."

The inquiry was launched after British troops left Iraq in July 2009 and public hearings began in London that November.

Former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were among the wide cast of diplomats, ministers, military chiefs and civil servants who were called as witnesses, some of them -- including Blair -- more than once.

The inquiry has looked at the justification for the invasion and its legality, the conduct of the war and the supply of military equipment to Britain's troops, and Iraq's descent into chaos after the invasion.

© 2011 AFP

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