Jackson fears Army will remain in Iraq for years

British troops will be sent to help the US in conflict zones anywhere inside Iraq, prompting fears that soldiers could be stuck in the most dangerous parts of the country fighting insurgents for years to come.

General Sir Mike Jackson, the officer commanding the Army, said in an interview with The Independent yesterday that troops could again be dispatched outside the Basra area to help the US and Iraqi forces if the insurgent threat escalates. The deployment could also go on beyond the end of 2005 when the US mandate for the coalition to stay in the country expires. "It is event-driven," he said.

Sir Mike's remarks will raise fears among critics of the war that Britain is being sucked deeper into the mire in Iraq by extending its mission.

Four British soldiers have died in suicide attacks and bombings since the Black Watch was sent north to support the US-led onslaught on Fallujah three weeks ago. It was the first time UK troops have left the British-controlled area of Basra.

Aware of the unpopularity of the deployment, the Government has been at pains to say that the Black Watch troops will be back home by Christmas. And Tony Blair said last month that he "did not believe that there will be a further requirement for other troops" to be deployed away from Basra.

"Yes, we have said that the Black Watch will come back by Christmas," the Prime Minister said. "As to what then happens, we cannot be sure. We do not believe that there will be a further requirement for other troops, but I cannot guarantee that, because, obviously, I do not know the situation that may arise."

Meanwhile, Iraqi authorities announced yesterday that national elections would be held on 30 January despite escalating violence. The elections will clash with the annual haj, when millions of pilgrims travel overland through Iraq. They will come from Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, making it impossible to seal Iraq's borders.

In Ramadi, 35 miles west of Fallujah, gunmen attacked a group of Iraqi National Guard troops yesterday, killing nine and wounding 17 after hijacking a convoy and lining the men up for execution. Earlier in the day, several Iraqi civilians were killed when US Marines fired on a bus that drove through a checkpoint.

Near Latifiyah, south of Baghdad, a Reuters reporter watched gunmen kill two off-duty National Guards troops and a policeman at a roadblock.

In Mosul, Iraq's third city, the bodies of three men killed by insurgents were left lying on a street a day after US troops discovered the bodies of nine Iraqi soldiers. All 12 men had been shot in the back of the head. Four headless corpses were also discovered in the city last week. A group led by the al-Qa'ida ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has claimed responsibility for the killings. In Baghdad, four large explosions shook the area near the US-guarded Green Zone after sunset but no casualties were reported.

Sir Mike said that all the British operations had been in the Basra area "until this one-off deployment of the Black Watch. That is not to say, in the future, there may not be a military requirement of the coalition as a whole for a British unit or units to be elsewhere".

The Black Watch would be pulled back within a few weeks and would not be replaced at Camp Dogwood, he said.

Sir Mike rejected claims by the Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy, that the Black Watch deployment was a sign of "mission creep''. "The mission is to provide Iraq with its political and economic future," he said. "That's the mission."

Sir Mike also appeared to suggest that the British deployment could go on beyond December 2005, when the mandate for the coalition in Iraq officially ends. "How long we stay there is going to be event-driven," he said.

Iraq was now more "challenging", he said, adding: "It's clear a minority - and I believe a pretty small minority - of Iraqis with some outside assistance cannot face the idea of progress in Iraq and are prepared to do some pretty revolting things to prevent it. And they cannot be allowed to succeed."

Suggested Topics
News
newsNew images splice vintage WWII photos with modern-day setting
Arts and Entertainment
The star dances on a balcony in the video
music
News
Official estimates of the level of sham marriages range between 4,000 and 10,000 every year
science
News
Damon Gameua took on a low-fat, high-sugar health food diet for 60 days
peopleAustralian director Damon Gameua was given warning by his GP
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Sport
sportComment: Win or lose Hamilton represents the best of Britain
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsene Wenger reacts during Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Swansea
footballMan United and Arsenal meet on Saturday with both clubs this time languishing outside the top four
News
i100BBC political editor Nick Robinson had a lot of explaining to do
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines