HC Deb 28 March 1994 vol 240 cc543-5W
Mr. Dalyell

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information is available to Her Majesty's Government about the reason for the burning of settlements in the marshes where the Tigris meets the Euphrates.

Mr. Douglas Hogg

The destruction of settlements in the marshes of southern Iraq may be related to marsh drainage construction projects, counter-insurgency operations or harassment of Shia Arabs by the authorities in Baghdad. United States, United Kingdom and French aircraft deployed to patrol the southern no-fly zone continue to monitor the situation closely. Iraq's motives are unlikely to be clear until the United Nations monitors are allowed access to the area, as required by the United Nations resolutions. But judging from Saddam's past record of brutality towards his own people, the wide-scale burning of settlements is likely to be part of an aggressive campaign against those who live in the marshes.