World / Europe

Tony Blair apologizes for Iraq War 'mistakes'

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-10-25 21:51

LONDON - Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has apologized for "mistakes" in the planning of the Iraq war, admitting that "the intelligence we received was wrong," British media reported Sunday.

Blair conceded that there were "elements of truth" in the view that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was the "principle cause" of the rise of the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, British Sky News reported.

"I apologies for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong," the report quoted Blair as saying in an interview with CNN.

"I also apologies for some of the mistakes in planning and, certainly, our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime," he added.

However, Blair also said: "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."

In the interview, Blair acknowledged the link between the Iraq war and the rise of the Islamic State.

"Of course, you can't say that those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015," he said.

"But it's important also to realize, one, that the 'Arab Spring' which began in 2011 would also have had its impact on Iraq today, and two, ISIS actually came to prominence from a base in Syria and not in Iraq," he added.

In 2009, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown established an inquiry, led by John Chilcot, into the Britain's involvement in the Iraq War, but the finally conclusions of the inquiry have not been published yet.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has described Blair's apology as a "spin operation."

"The Blair spin operation begins but the country still awaits the truth. The delay to Chilcot report is a scandal," she said on her Twitter account.

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