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Volume 403: debated on Thursday 10 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what training in use of Arabic was given to military personnel and medical auxiliaries in the invasion forces in Iraq. [106426]

A small number of military personnel were given training in Arabic language skills prior to their deployment to the Gulf in support of operations against Iraq.That aside, no additional training in Arabic was given to the forces now serving in the Gulf. Personnel deploying to the Gulf are issued with a language card that lists useful vocabulary and its meaning. These cards contain phonetic phrases to aid pronunciation. Training in Arabic is not provided for medical auxiliaries. We do, however, employ interpreters to work alongside medical personnel caring for Arabic-speaking patients.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on how the coalition forces invading Iraq convey to Iraqi citizens how they can surrender. [106427]

The Coalition have dropped approximately 32 million-33 million leaflets aimed at Iraqi citizens, mainly combatants, but also civilians.Those aimed at combatants include instructions on how to surrender, including adopting a non-offensive posture, raising a white flag, stowing weapons, and parking combat vehicles in a square formation.Those aimed at civilians advise on how to avoid being caught up in military action, by staying away from military targets, by staying indoors, and not interfering with coalition operations.In addition, the Coalition have used radio and loudspeaker broadcasts to convey specific surrender instructions to combatants.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Iraqi tanks and of what types have been destroyed by British Forces in Iraq since the start of the Operation TELIC. [107114]

United Kingdom land forces in Iraq have destroyed T54 and T55 tanks. In addition, the Royal Air Force has attacked Republican Guard formations and has destroyed some of their equipment which is likely to have included T72 tanks. It will be some time before any estimate could be made about the numbers of tanks destroyed by UK forces.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assurances the Government has received from the United States that any irregular Iraqi troops will be treated according to the Geneva Convention. [107832]

Under the Geneva Convention, treatment of prisoners taken during hostilities is a matter for the Detaining Power. We will adhere to our obligations under the Geneva Convention towards all prisoners we capture. We are confident that the United States will do likewise.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to send additional British troops to the Gulf. [107977]

As I told the House on 31 March 2003, Official Report, columns 649–50 and 3 April 2003, Official Report, column 1074, we plan to send out replacements for our forces as and when they prove necessary. At this stage, we do not require a substantial increase in the total number offerees in theatre.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many days (a) food rations and (b) water supplies are loaded on the RFA Sir Galahad; and how many people he estimates will be provided with shelter from the vessels supplies. [106603]

On 28 March 2003, RFA Sir Galahad delivered some 300 tonnes of humanitarian aid at Umm Qasr, Iraq. The load included 100 tonnes of bottled water and 187 tonnes of food. This has been, and will continue to be distributed, as required, across an expanding area of operations. It is not accurate, therefore, to characterise the amount as 'days of supplies'. However, a large number of people in southern Iraq will benefit from the delivery.Also, as part of humanitarian aid emergency packs, the load carried two and a half tonnes of blankets and half a tonne of plastic sheeting (normally intended to shelter the supplies, if required). None of this was specifically to provide shelter nor has this been found to be a particular requirement.