Britain's former Prime Minister Tony Blair has apologized for "mistakes" made in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Blair also said there are "elements of truth" in claims that the invasion was the main cause of the rise of the Islamic State group, in an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria that was broadcast Sunday.
Britain and the United States under the George W. Bush administration attacked Iraq following a belief, based on intelligence, that Saddam Hussein's regime had weapons of mass destruction. No major weapons of mass destruction were found.
Speaking to CNN, Blair said: "I can say that I apologize for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong because, even though he (Saddam) had used chemical weapons extensively against his own people, against others, the program in the form that we thought it was did not exist in the way that we thought."
By the time the war officially ended on Dec. 15, 2011, more than 4,000 U.S. troops and 179 British servicemembers had died and over 100,000 Iraqi civilians were killed, according to the website Iraq Body Count.
Blair also apologized "for some of the mistakes in planning and, certainly, our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime."
But he did not apologize for the Iraq War itself, adding: "I find it hard to apologize for removing Saddam. I think, even from today in 2015, it is better that he's not there than that he is there."
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