November 6, 2004
By Audrey Gillan
Relatives of the three Black Watch soldiers killed in Iraq have lashed out at the government's decision to send them into a more dangerous zone.
The younger brother of Private Paul Lowe, 19, a Black Watch soldier himself who only recently returned from Basra, said his "brother, comrade and friend" had died in a war over "oil and money" and demanded that his regiment return home.
Private Scott McArdle's uncle condemned Tony Blair and George Bush for sending the troops into a "death trap".
Privates Lowe and McArdle, 22, and Sergeant Stuart Gray, 31, were killed by a suicide car bomber as they inspected vehicles by the roadside a few miles from their new camp south of Baghdad on Thursday. They had been there just a few days and had been due to fly home last month after serving six months in the area.
Martin McArdle said he feared the situation would become another Vietnam and that the conflict was "George Bush's war". Of Mr Blair, he said: "I just hope he can live with himself."
Private Craig Lowe, 18, said: "We should get them all out of there. If not, there's going to be a lot more of them like this and there's going to be a lot more upset people. Paul told us he would hopefully be home for Christmas, but now we are just going to have to try to deal with what happened."
Followers of the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a professed al-Qaida disciple, yesterday claimed responsibility for the killings on an Islamist website.
Earlier, the defence secretary, Geoff Hoon, was furious at a claim that he had been duplicitous in his justification of why British troops were being sent further into the US zone. He said he did not believe the families' anger at their relatives being deployed in the Sunni "triangle of death" was justified.
The SNP leader, Alex Salmond, told Radio 4's Today programme that the Black Watch families had concerns about the nature of the deployment and were angry "they should be left in this position".
Mr Hoon replied that Mr Salmond's comments demonstrated "there are no depths to which he will not sink".
Mr Blair sent the families his "deep sympathy" and expressed his "pride and gratitude to the Black Watch for the extraordinary and heroic job they are doing".
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