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Sgt John Jones

Carol Jones – the mother of one of 174 British troops killed in Iraq since the invasion in 2003 – said the withdrawal from Basra and the handover to local forces has come “three years too late”. The occupation, she claims, has “achieved nothing”.

Carol’s son John “Jonah” Jones from Castle Bromwich was killed by a roadside bomb in 2005.

His death came after a period of relative calm following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, when Carol says “he was able to walk about in his cap, and played football with the locals.”

She argues that the turning point came with the recognition that Saddam hadn’t been stocking up on weapons of mass destruction to wreak havoc in the West – as had been claimed by Tony Blair and George W Bush.

“When they realised that, they should have brought lads home” Carol reckons.

“But”, she adds, “it wasn’t really about that was it? It was all about oil.”

Britain’s 5,000 troops in Iraq are now stationed by Basra airport, and a full withdrawal is expected next year.

Foreign Secretary David Milliband has been keen to portray the episode not as British troops stepping down, but as Iraqi forces “stepping up.”

It’s a nuance Carol isn’t really interested in. She believes that one way or another, the country will end up in the grip of another dictator.

“Once they’d got rid of Saddam, they should have left the Iraqis to it. Thousands and thousands of their people have died, not just the 174 we’ve lost.

“I remember seeing once on television about the suicide bombers who attacked a wedding and I felt so sorry for the families. Just like the killing of my John, it wasn’t fair.

“All those lives could have been saved if we hadn’t been there. They’d have got on with it. They didn’t want us there. You can’t stick Christians into a Muslim country.

“The whole thing has been a complete waste of time. What have we achieved? Nothing”.

To see Carol’s latest blog about her recent meeting with Defence Minister Des Browne click here

And to watch an interview with Carol on the anniversary of her son’s death last month click here

Is Carol right?

Have we achieved “nothing” with the occupation of Iraq?

And is the handover a sign of success – or failure?

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