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Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

Volume 481: debated on Monday 27 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether representatives of the British Army and representatives of the Mahdi Army entered into any agreement or accommodation in respect of military engagement in Iraq during 2007. (228803)

UK forces are operating in Iraq as part of a multi-national coalition at the request of the Iraqi Government. The coalition and the Iraqi Government have routinely followed a policy of dialogue with insurgent groups, where it is judged they can be persuaded to renounce violence and participate in the legitimate political process. The offer of engagement is open to groups across the political spectrum and it has been an essential element of the counter-insurgency strategy to bring peace and security to Iraq.

In 2007, with the full knowledge and support both of our coalition partners and the Iraqi Government, UK forces conducted a dialogue with a range of militia leaders in Basra—including Jaish al-Mahdi—in accordance with the Iraq-wide reconciliation strategy. Neither these discussions, nor their outcome, prevented UK forces from providing military support to the Iraqi Security Forces.