Minister praises Iraq War veterans as 'the finest spirit of the British Armed Forces'

Watch: Iraq War 20th anniversary commemoration at the National Memorial Arboretum

Defence procurement minister Alex Chalk says "it's about remembering those who served" as the Armed Forces paid their respects to the British personnel who lost their lives on Operation Telic in Iraq.

On 20 March 2003, US and allied forces invaded Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein's regime which was believed to be possessing weapons of mass destruction - a claim which was later disproven.

The UK's involvement in the Iraq War, known as Operation Telic, resulted in the tragic loss of 179 British service personnel.

'Leave aside the politics'

The Last Post sounded on Monday morning from the Basra Memorial Wall at the National Memorial Arboretum, to mark 20 years since the start of the Iraq War.

Mr Chalk attended the wreath-laying ceremony to honour the memory of the fallen and highlighted their "extraordinary courage" and "professionalism".

The defence procurement minister told Forces News: "My message to Iraq veterans is we remember what you did, we acknowledge the extraordinary response that you gave.

"Leave aside the politics, we see in you people who showed extraordinary courage, and professionalism. You are in the finest spirit of the British Armed Forces."

He added: "We salute what you did, we have great pride in what you achieved and we will remember everything that you did."

Defence minister Alex Chalk laid a wreath at the Basra Memorial War.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) also posted a message of remembrance for the British personnel who didn't return from the operation.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "Marking 20 years since the start of Operation Telic, we remember the 179 British personnel who lost their lives and pay tribute to them and their families.

"We remain committed to the close and enduring partnership the UK and Iraq have today, working together to address shared global security challenges."

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