RAF ends Iraq campaign after 19 years

The RAF has brought the flag down on its involvement in Iraq after 19 years of operations that began with the Gulf War in 1990.

From today the bulk of the British air personnel remaining in the country will return to the UK.

The historic landmark was commemorated at a ceremony for 903 Expeditionary Air Wing RAF at Basra International Airport in southern Iraq yesterday.

In baking heat the RAF Ensign - which had flown since UK forces took the air base in 2003 - was lowered as Wing Commander Ian Richardson, officer commanding 903 EAW, took the salute.

The RAF has been deployed on operations around Iraq since August 1990, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

After the Gulf War, the RAF policed the northern and southern no-fly zones over Iraq for 12 years.

British airmen and women went on to play a vital role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the six-year campaign that followed.

A total of 22 RAF personnel died in Operation Telic, the name given to the UK's military mission in Iraq since 2003.

In January, Basra airfield was officially handed back to Iraqi control as part of moves to wind down Britain's commitments in the country.

Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy, said: "The RAF can be justifiably proud of what it has achieved over many years in Iraq and I would like to express my sincere thanks to all the personnel who have been involved in the various phases of this long campaign."

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