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To Gasps from the Gallery, Blair: "We Should Be Proud of the War"

The Independent UK - His voice was hoarse from six hours of questioning. But still he was unrepentant. To gasps of anger from grieving relatives Tony Blair used the final moments of his evidence to the Iraq war inquiry to justify leading Britain in one of the country's most divisive conflicts in its history.

Asked by the inquiry chairman, Sir John Chilcot, whether he had any regrets, he replied: "Responsibility but not a regret for removing Saddam Hussein. I think that he was a monster. I believe he threatened not just the region but the world. And in the circumstances that we faced then, but I think even if you look back now, it was better to deal with this threat, to remove him from office."

Sir John appealed for calm as a heckler shouted: "What, no regrets? Come on!" His voice fading, Mr Blair insisted that Britain - especially its armed forces - should feel an "immense sense of pride" over the Iraq war. He added: "I had to take this decision as Prime Minister. It was a huge responsibility and there is not a single day that passes by that I don't reflect and think about that responsibility." He insisted that the war, which cost the lives of 179 British soldiers, was justified despite the failure to uncover any weapons of mass destruction.

Mr Blair even predicted that Western leaders might be forced to invade Iran, as it presents as serious a threat today as Iraq did under the rule of the "profoundly wicked, almost psychopathic" Saddam seven years ago.

The former prime minister closed his long-awaited appearance before the Chilcot inquiry by arguing that the world was a safer place following the war. Members of the audience, who included the families of dead servicemen and women, yelled "murderer" and "liar" at him, while several were led out of the hearing in tears. Read more.

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