A sharp increase in British and American bombing raids on Iraq in the run-up to war "to put pressure on the regime" was illegal under international law, according to leaked Foreign Office legal advice.
The advice was first provided to senior ministers in March 2002. Two months later RAF and USAF jets began "spikes of activity" designed to goad Saddam Hussein into retaliating and giving the allies a pretext for war.
The Foreign Office advice shows military action to pressurise the regime was "not consistent with" UN law, despite American claims that it was.
Further intensification of the bombing, known in the Pentagon as the Blue Plan, began at the end of August, 2002, following a meeting of the US National Security Council at the White House that month.
General Tommy Franks, the allied commander, recalled in his autobiography, American Soldier, that during this meeting he rejected a call from Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, to cut the bombing patrols because he wanted to use them to make Iraq's defences "as weak as possible".
Tuesday, June 21, 2005
Bombing raids before the Iraq war
More attention is being given to the increase in the frequency of bombing raids in Iraq in the summer of 2002, before the war started and before Bush asked for US Congressional authorization for the war. Paul Rogat Loeb wrote an editorial (More Damning Than Downing Street) discussing the bombing raids, and the Sunday Times has an article reporting that the British Foreign Office determined these bombing raids were likely illegal: