Iraq war probe resumes, Blix to give evidence

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Britain's Iraq war inquiry resumed Tuesday after suspending its hearings for general elections, with former UN inspector Hans Blix among those to give testimony in the coming weeks.

As the probe -- which took evidence from ex-premier Tony Blair earlier in the year -- got underway once again, it emerged it has questioned General David Petraeus, the top US commander for Iraq and Afghanistan.

Blix is among a string of senior military and political officials called to appear before the five-member panel investigating Britain's role in the 2003 invasion and subsequent conflict.

He has been highly critical of the invasion, which US and British authorities justified on the basis that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. None were ever found.

Eliza Manningham-Buller, the former head of domestic security service MI5, will also appear before the inquiry in London, as will former armed forces chiefs General Mike Jackson and Richard Dannatt.

The inquiry was launched last July, following the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, and heard from former premiers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in its first round of hearings.

It resumed taking testimony Tuesday with witnesses including Douglas Brand, chief police adviser to Iraq's interior ministry from 2003-2004, and Sir John Holmes, Britain's ambassador to Paris from 2001-2007.

The schedule for testimony over the next two weeks was published on the inquiry's website, although no date has yet been given for Blix's appearance.

During the break the inquiry panel travelled to France and the United States to quiz key players. These included Petraeus, who many in Washington credit with almost single-handedly turning around the Iraq war, officials said Tuesday.

The probe, led by former top civil servant Sir John Chilcot, is due to report by the end of the year.

© 2010 AFP

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