Seizing guns from hands of terrorists (Iraq)

Arsenal of hate: Staff Sergeant Mark Teesdale with the result of a raid by Duke of Lancaster's soldiers


THE battle to dispose of Saddam may have been won, but the war to defeat the militiamen hell-bent on spoiling any prospect of peace in Iraq is far from over.

Acting on intelligence and under the cover of darkness, 300 troops from the 2nd Battalion Duke of Lancaster's Regiment Battle Group ' including many from Cumbria ' swooped on a house where terrorists were suspected to be hiding.

Although a thorough search of the building led to no-one being apprehended, their Basra mission was far from being a failure.

While they may not have caught those responsible for the terror which continues to grip Iraq, they certainly put a major dent in their arsenal.

Soldiers walked out of the building carrying two rocket-propelled grenades and roadside bomb-making equipment ' weapons which could quite easily have been fired on them or innocent Iraqis going about their daily business.

A search of a nearby vehicle was another success, discovering more weapons, including a heavy machine gun, seven rockets, another rocket-propelled grenade and launcher, 22 hand grenades, two anti-tank mines, more than 5kgs of explosives, 300-plus rounds of small arms and more weapon-making gear.

The operation, in the Al Hyyaniyah area of the city during the early hours of Sunday, was just one example of the way Cumbrian troops are attempting to keep the peace and stop the carnage blighting the efforts to rebuild Iraq.

And Major David Gell, UK military spokesman in southern Iraq, believes its importance cannot be underestimated.

He said: "Yet again, British soldiers have demonstrated the ability to react quickly to keep the criminals and rogue militia on the back foot.

"Responding swiftly to information received, this significant find for 2 LANCS battle group will help to save the lives of innocent Iraqis and multi-national forces."

It is now four years since British troops went into action alongside their American counterparts to topple Saddam's evil regime ' despite massive protests and opponents claiming the invasion of Iraq was illegal.

Cumbrian servicemen and women have been embroiled in the conflict from the moment Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged he would be supporting US President George Bush.

Among the 134 British soldiers who have died on Operation TELIC is Cumbrian Lance Corporal Dennis Brady, 37, of Barrow, who was hit in an "indirect fire attack" at the Shatt Al-Arab Hotel after mortars landed inside the UK base in Basra on October 1 last year. He was a reservist in the Royal Army Medical Corps, attached to the 1st Battalion of the Light Infantry.

Hundreds of full and part-time troops have been deployed in Iraq both during the invasion and peace-keeping phase with the King's Own Royal Border Regiment and its successor, the Duke of Lancaster's.

Scores of others have seen action through the other services or with specialist mechanical and engineering units.

The 2nd Battalion Duke of Lancaster's is among Britain's current 7,100-strong force in southern Iraq at the moment with their six-month tour of duty, which has included helping to train security forces, expected to end in May.

It has not yet been confirmed whether others from the regiment will be among the next deployment, when the numbers involved will fall to about 5,000.

Many Cumbrian men and women have now undertaken numerous tours of duty in Iraq ' taking a massive toll on the loved ones they leave behind.

Few families from the county have been affected more than Jenny Callaghan's.

Her daughter, Kerry, 36, a sergeant in the Nursing Corps, has done four tours in the country while her son, 39-year-old father-of-four Sean, a sergeant with the famous Desert Rats, has been on three tours.

He is due to be deployed to Afghanistan at the end of the year while Kerry is on stand-by for either Iraq or Afghanistan. She also served in the first Gulf War.

Kerry's husband David Lewis, a captain in the Nursing Corps, is due to go back to Iraq in August.

Four years ago, all three were in the country at the same time.

Mrs Callaghan, of Harraby, Carlisle, revealed that no matter how many times they are posted abroad, it gets no easier for the family. They still continually worry and try not to watch many news bulletins.

She said: "You learn to accept this is the career they have chosen, but it does not get any easier. I think it gets harder for them every time they go back because they know what they are going back to.

"It will be no different to when they left. It must be soul-destroying to go back time and time again."

Mrs Callaghan believes a lack of public support makes the situation even more difficult.

Only yesterday, six out of 10 people told a BBC survey they believed the military action taken by the US and Britain in 2003 was an error but nearly a third ' 29 per cent ' said they still thought it was the right thing to do.

Mrs Callaghan said: "It may not be a war that is popular, but these men and women have no choice.

"My son and daughter do not want to be continually going back to a war zone. It would be nice if there was more support."

Soldiers from the Duke of Lancaster's last month described the work they were doing in Basra, often alongside Iraqi security officers.

Operations officer Captain Andy Locke, of Gosforth near Whitehaven, said: "There is an element of mutual respect (with the Iraqi officers).

"They look to us for guidance and advice and see our ways as the right way of doing things. But they know the people, the culture and the ground better than we do and we have to respect their opinion from time to time."

Kingsman Nathan Lowman, 18, of Cockermouth, added: "From the work I have done with them, the Iraqis are eager to learn and take control of their own country."

Von: 21.03.2007

<<< zurück zu: News