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Galloway and Hoon in Parliament

Yesterday in Parliament:

17. Mr. George Galloway (Glasgow, Kelvin): What military action Her 
Majesty's forces engaged in during June over Iraq; and if he will make a 
statement. [1199]

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Geoffrey Hoon): During June, 
coalition aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones came under attack from the 
Iraqi air defence system on more than 80 occasions. They responded in 
self-defence against elements of that system on six of those occasions. The 
House should note Iraqi claims that some 23 people lost their lives on 19 
June during a football match in the town of Tal Afar. On that day, coalition 
aircraft were certainly fired on by a range of

9 Jul 2001 : Column 540

systems, including anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air missiles, but 
there was no coalition self-defence response on that day. We believe that 
the incident was the result of an Iraqi missile falling back to the ground.

Mr. Galloway: Of course I accept my right hon. Friend's unequivocal and 
categoric assurance that the 23 young people who were killed on that killing 
field that had been a football field were not killed by British or American 
forces. However, they are dead, and their families are in mourning. Will my 
right hon. Friend not reflect with me--and, more importantly, with former 
supporters of the no-fly zone policy, such as Liberal Democrat Members and, 
even more significantly, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, from whose 
territory those missions were flown--that the no-fly zone operations are 
becoming part of the problem rather than the solution, and that those 23 
victims have to be added to the long melancholy list of victims of war and 
sanctions in Iraq? Would it not be better to pause for reflection on whether 
the no-fly zones should be suspended?

Mr. Hoon: I might feel a little more confident about my hon. Friend's 
assertion if he had raised the matter directly with Saddam Hussein, who is 
responsible for those 23 deaths, and who has inflicted on his own people the 
horrors that we are seeking to prevent by patrolling in the no-fly zones. I 
commend my hon. Friend for his concern about those deaths, but that concern 
would have been much strengthened if he had raised the matter directly with 
Saddam Hussein.

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