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Tony Blair Admits Iraq Invasion's Role in Rise of ISIS

Former prime minister offers no real apology for invasion

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair admitted that the invasion of Iraq helped the rise of ISIS.

Speaking to CNN's Fareed Zakaria in an interview that aired on Sunday, Blair said, "Of course you can't say that those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation [in Iraq] in 2015."

"There are elements of truth" in the fact that the invasion is responsible for the rise in ISIS, he said.

Asked whether the invasion was wrong, Blair failed to give a direct apology, saying that he could "apologize for some of the mistakes in planning and certainly our mistakes in our understanding of what would happen when you remove the regime. But I find it hard to apologize for removing Saddam. I think, even from today in 2015, it is better that he's not there than that he is there."

"I can say that I apologize for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong because, even though he had used chemical weapons extensively against his own people, against others, the program in the form that we thought it was did not exist in the way that we thought," he said.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon responded by tweeting that Blair's comments were part of a "spin operation" ahead of the release of the long-awaited Chilcot Inquiry, which looks at the UK's role in the Iraq war.  And the Stop the War Coalition took to twitter to offer this response:

 

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In a related development, a memo publicized last week by the Daily Mail revealed that, in contrast to claims made by Blair, a year before the US. led invasion he told the administration of President George W. Bush that he would support military action in that country.

"On Iraq, Blair will be with us should military operations be necessary," ex-Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote to Bush in the memo written in March 2002.

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