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Iraqi Kurdish fighters free 'vast area' of Mount Sinjar

Members of the Kurdish security forces take part in a patrol in Zumar, Nineveh province. Credit: Reuters

Kurdish peshmerga fighters have fought their way to Iraq's Sinjar mountain and freed hundreds of people trapped there by the Islamic State fighters, a Kurdish leader said late last night.

100 Islamic State fighters were killed in the assault, which was backed by US airstrikes.

The peshmerga have managed to reach the mountain. A vast area has been liberated. Now a corridor is open and hopefully the rest of the (Sinjar) region will be freed from Islamic State.

– Masrour Barzani

The Yazidi people have not been evacuated and the the toil on the civilian population is unclear. The words 'Property of the Islamic State' were sprayed on villages.

The Kurds have yet to take the actual town of Sinjar.

Anger over cost of £31 million al-Sweady Inquiry

The Defence Secretary and former leaders of the Army and Navy have all hit out at the cost of the al-Sweady Inquiry into alleged abuse of Iraqi detainees.

Sir Thayne Forbes, the retired judge who chaired the inquiry, said allegations of murder and torture made against British troops were the product of "deliberate lies, reckless speculation and ingrained hostility".

ITV News Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship reports.

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Former head of Navy joins criticism of al-Sweady Inquiry

A former head of the Navy has issued a strong condemnation of the al-Sweady Inquiry.

Admiral Lord West, who headed the Navy from 2002-2006, told the House of Lords there seemed to be more interest in the human rights "of people who set out to kill us" than of British troops.

It does seem we are more willing now to concern ourselves with the human rights of people who set out to kill us - these men were actually intending to kill our soldiers and often it is people who are intending to kill civilians as well - than with the human rights of our own soldiers.

– Admiral Lord West

Former army chief: £30m 'wasted' on al-Sweady inquiry

The former head of the army has attacked Public Interest Lawyers for what he claims was £25-£30 million "wasted" on the al-Sweady Inquiry.

General Lord Richard Dannatt told ITV News Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship that it was "highly improbable" that there was any real basis for the claims made against British troops.

Lawyers say report raises 'serious criticisms' of UK troops

The lawyers' for nine Iraqi detainees who claimed they had been abused by British troops say the Al-Sweady inquiry has raised "very serious criticisms" of the behaviour of UK personnel.

Retired judge Sir Thaynes Forbes, who led the inquiry, said the main allegations of torture and unlawful killing were unfounded, although some mistreatment did occur.

In a press release following Sir Thayne's report, Public Interest Lawyers said:

[The report] found that on a number of occasions Geneva Convention provisions had been breached including the use of improper and proscribed interrogation techniques and that deficient medical treatment had been provided.

This important and worthwhile report upholds some of the more serious allegations against the British Army. Some allegations were withdrawn because of the work of the Inquiry, others have been dismissed. However, there are many very serious criticisms of the ill treatment and breaches of human rights of the Iraqi detainees.

– Public Interest Lawyers

Iraqi detainees lied about abuse at hands of UK soldiers

Claims from nine Iraqi detainees that British soldiers tortured, mutilated and murdered fellow insurgents in 2004 are all lies, a judge said today - but only after a public inquiry that cost taxpayers more than £30 million.

ITV News Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship reports.

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Inquiry findings 'put baseless accusations to rest'

The Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has told the House of Commons that today's Al-Sweady inquiry findings "puts to rest once and for all these shocking and completely baseless accusations".

"I accept Sir Thayne [Forbes]'s conclusion that some instances of ill-treatment did occur," he said.

Mr Fallon added that he accepted all nine of Sir Thayne's recommendations and has commissioned "urgent" work on their practical implications.

He said that the Iraqi detainees and their counsel must now "bear the brunt" of the criticism of the "protracted nature and the £31 million cost of this unnecessary public inquiry".

Lawyers for the detainees should issue an "unequivocal" apology to the soldiers, he said.

How British soldiers ill-treated Iraqi detainees

The Al-Sweady inquiry has found that British troops ill-treated nine Iraqi detainees following the Battle of Danny Boy on May 14 2004, near Al Amarah in southern Iraq.

How the Iraqi detainees were ill-treated during questioning:

  • Removal of each detainee's sight restriction in order to make questioning more effective
  • Invasion of personal space by blowing gently on the back of blindfolded detainee's neck while walking around him in silence
  • Striking a tent peg on the table to scare the detainee
  • Shouting at the detainees

How the Iraqi detainees were ill-treated during overnight custody:

  • Detainees were not given adequate food
  • Detainees were kept awake until questioning
  • They were deprived of sight by the use of blacked-out goggles

Ill-treatment of Iraqis 'minor' compared to allegations

Sir Thayne Forbes, Chair of the Al-Sweady inquiry Credit: Pool

The Chair of the Al-Sweady inquiry has criticised the Iraqi detainees and witnesses who gave evidence in the long-running investigation, describing their evidence against British soldiers as "unprincipled" and "without regard for the truth."

There were some instances of ill-treatment by the British military, but these were relatively minor when compared with the original very serious allegations.

I have also come to the conclusion that the overall approach of the detainees and that of a number of the other Iraqi witnesses to the giving of their evidence was both unprincipled in the extreme and wholly without regard for the truth.

– Sir Thayne Forbes
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