An investigation into allegations that Iraqi civilians drowned after British soldiers forced them into rivers following the 2003 invasion has been given evidence from a former army officer who says the practice of “wetting” was relatively widespread.
The former captain in the Irish Guards, in a witness statement to the Iraq fatality investigations, has claimed that senior officers had been aware that troops were adopting the practice as they struggled to contain an outbreak of looting.
The allegation has emerged shortly before the Chilcot inquiry publishes its long-awaited report on lessons to be learned from the UK’s involvement in the 2003 invasion.
A number of Iraqis who drowned are said to have been victims of the practice – known as “wetting” to British troops – of forcing suspected looters into rivers and canals.
The fatality investigations are a series of inquiries resembling a coroner’s inquest. In May a soldier in command of one group of troops who were alleged to have forced one of the alleged victims into the Shatt al-Basra waterway told the investigations that he was unaware of such a practice.
In a statement to the investigation, the former Irish Guards captain said: “We used a variety of methods to deal with looters, such as sitting them in the sun with a bottle of water, taking their shoes off, or throwing them into one of the waterways. Because No 2 Coy [Company] had a body of water, throwing looters into the river was not something I would have been surprised to see them doing.
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