Blair Says There Were Casualties
"This country and the wider world will never forget them."
Those words from a sadden British Prime Minister Tony Blair,
after word that an RAF C-130 had gone down about 25 miles northwest
of Baghdad Sunday, as people all over the Middle Eastern country
went to the polls to elect a national assembly.
Wreckage was reported scattered over a large area, according to
news reports. No word
was available on survivors or cause of the crash, and the incident
During a press conference in London Sunday, Blair said a number
of soldiers perished in the crash. "This is the true face of the
British Army: brave, committed, professional the world over, doing
an extraordinary job on behalf of their country," he said.
The BBC quotes officials at the British Defense Ministry as
saying the aircraft was based at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire. Although
Blair confirmed British soldiers had died in the downing, there was
no immediate word on how many were on board when the Hercules went
The C-130 was on its way from Baghdad to the huge US airbase at
Balan when it went down.
RAF Wing Commander Nigel Arnold, based at RAF Lyneham, told the
BBC members of the victims' families were being notified.
"Until that's done I am afraid we will not be releasing any
details of the crew," he said. "The welfare of these families is
our priority at the moment."
It was indeed a day of violence as Iraqis went to the polls in
spite of threats of violence, electing a national assembly that
will draft the country's new, democratic constitution. President
Bush joined Prime Minister Blair in extending his sympathy to the
families of those who were lost.
"We also mourn the American and British military personnel who
lost their lives today. Their sacrifices were made in a vital cause
of freedom, peace in troubled region, and a more secure future for