Belfast Telegraph

Monday 15 September 2014

Colonel Tim Collins: We've abandoned Iraq

UK must act to save refugees fleeing Isis terror, says war hero colonel

Colonel Tim Collins has accused the Government of deserting the people of Iraq and abandoning ancient civilisations to their fate at the hands of Islamic extremists
Colonel Tim Collins has accused the Government of deserting the people of Iraq and abandoning ancient civilisations to their fate at the hands of Islamic extremists

Colonel Tim Collins - the Northern Ireland-born war hero - has accused the Government of deserting the people of Iraq and abandoning ancient civilisations to their fate at the hands of Islamic extremists.

Col Collins, who rose to fame for his inspiring eve of battle speech to troops as they were deployed in the 2003 Iraq war, called for Parliament to be recalled to debate the crisis. He also called for airstrikes to be launched and for the UK to arm Kurdish fighters.

"In the next months ancient civilisations will be extinguished on our watch unless we act. I cannot think back in my mind of a precedent. Pol Pot was the closest it came, Stalin tried it," he writes in today's Daily Telegraph.

"Britain helped create Iraq in 1920 and we have a moral responsibility to help. We have used the Kurds as a public convenience for too long, now their backs are against the wall and we've got to support them."

He described current aid drops as little more than "a pebble in the ocean" and said the Government was not interested in acting as military intervention in Iraq was not a vote winner.

"The Government has left for lunch – 'back for the election in 2015' is the sign on the door. There is no activity. They will make noises about Gaza because that's a vote winner. This has no votes in it, it's a moral obligation. Current politicians don't do moral obligation. Parliament should be recalled."

Col Collins, who visited Erbil in northern Iraq recently, said he saw thousands of people queuing in the baking sun for water.

"There's two things that need to be done in parallel," he said.

"The Brits need to be there to train and arm the Peshmerga. We should also be taking part in air strikes and urging our coalition partners including Turkey, France, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to take part."

But No 10 said Britain would not be supplying arms to the Kurdish forces. Downing Street said Chinook helicopters are being sent to help prevent a humanitarian disaster as thousands of refugees are trapped by Isis militants on Mount Sinjar.

Tornado jets also flew out from RAF Marham in Norfolk to provide surveillance images.

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