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Tony Blair says sorry for going to war against Iraq in 2003Reuters

Tony Blair has finally apologised for the Iraq War. The former Prime Minister said he accepts that the conflict has been a factor in the rise of Islamic State. Blair made the startling confession during a TV interview in which he acknowledged the 'hell' that had resulted from his and George Bush's decision in 2003, to oust Saddam Hussein from power.

In an interview by US political broadcaster Fareed Zakaria, Blair is asked point-blank: "Was the Iraq War a mistake?" He replies matter of factly: "I apologise for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong. I also apologise for some of the mistakes in planning and, certainly, our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime.

Mail online reports that when asked if the Iraq War was 'the principal cause' of the rise of Islamic State, he said: "I think there are elements of truth in that. Of course you can't say those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015."

Appearing remorseful he asks for public forgiveness for his failure to anticipate "what would happen once you removed the regime".

His dramatic admission comes 12 years after the former Prime Minister refused to apologise for the conflict. It was recently revealed that he was challenged by former Labour Home Secretary David Blunkett over the decision to go to war who warned him of the inevitable bloody aftermath.

In 2007 Blair maintained his position saying: "I don't think we should be apologising at all for what we are doing in Iraq."

In his 2010 memoirs, he explained somewhat prophetically, that he had refused to say 'yes' when asked if he was sorry, for fear of the inevitable headlines that would follow. "Answer "Yes" and I knew the outcome: "BLAIR APOLOGISES FOR WAR", "AT LAST HE SAYS SORRY". I can't say sorry in words."

His confession comes ahead of the release of the delayed Chilcot inquiry into Britain's invasion of Iraq which is due to be made public in December with Sir John Chilcot widely expected to place most of the blame for the war on then prime minister Tony Blair. It is claimed several others are likely to face criticism as well, including foreign secretary Jack Straw, Sir Richard Dearlove, head of MI6, Sir John Scarlett, chairman of the joint intelligence committee, Geoff Hoon, defence secretary, and Clare Short, international development secretary.