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Updated: October 24, 2010 18:49 IST

Iraq war allegations extraordinarily serious: Britain

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British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. File photo
British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. File photo

Allegations raised against the U.S.-led forces by the leaked Iraq war documents are “extraordinarily serious” and people are awaiting a response on the shocking disclosures, Washington’s close ally Britain said on Sunday.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who had earlier said that the decision of the then Tony Blair government to join the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion was illegal, said the allegations needed to be looked into.

“People are waiting for an official response to the shocking allegations against U.S. and coalition troops,” Mr. Clegg told BBC television.

“We can bemoan how these leaks occurred but I think the nature of the allegations made are extraordinarily serious. They are distressing to read about and they’re very serious,” he said.

A fresh cache of classified military documents made public by whistleblower website WikiLeaks has revealed how the number of civilian deaths after the invasion was much higher than documented officially.

Mr. Clegg said people will want to hear what the answer is to “what are very, very serious allegations of a nature which I think everybody will find quite shocking”.

“I’m assuming the U.S. administration will want to provide its own answer. It’s not for us to tell them how to do that.”

Following the ‘largest classified military leak’ detailing accounts of torture and killing of over 66,000 civilians, the U.N. asked the U.S. administration to probe the involvement of American forces in human rights abuses, summary executions and war crimes in Iraq.

Mr. Clegg asserted that “anything that suggests that basic rules of war and conflict and of engagement have been broken or that torture has in any way been condoned are extremely serious and need to be looked at”.

American troops shot dead 681 innocent civilians at security checkpoints in Iraq including 30 children, the WikiLeaks has claimed as it also documented alleged torture of detainees by the Iraqi authorities. Troops who were ordered to shoot at cars that failed to stop killed nearly six times as many Iraqi civilians as insurgents. Survivors claim that American troops often opened fire without adequate warning.

Following the damning revelations, President Barack Obama is facing calls for an inquiry into the disclosures.

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