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Hoon asks Iraqis not to shoot back
22 Oct 2004 by RussusDefence Secretary Geoff "Buff" Hoon today revealed that although British troops are to be sent to one of the most troubled areas of Iraq to support President Bush's bid to be re-elected American attacks on Falluja, a "gentleman's agreement" has been struck with Iraqi militants not to shoot at British troops, unless it's "really, really necessary".
Escalating their involvement in the war, British troops will perform a rear guard action south of Baghdad while US soldiers are winning elections in Falluja. Or more correctly, "Winning elections and democratic freedom for the simple folk of Iraq," as a smiling White House spokesman put it.
In order to uphold the already excellent rapport British forces have with the Iraqi community, Iraqi militants have been asked not to shoot directly at troops. Instead they may fire in their general direction, so long as it is slightly to their side or over their heads. Attacking forces will also be obliged to shout, in either English or Arabic, "OK! We're coming in! So look out!" before launching an attack.
Although the majority of Iraq's factions have yet to respond, Mr Hoon believes that he has an agreed understanding of how to behave courteously, respecting the ancient customs of Her Majesty's British Empire.
The rules of warfare, first laid down in 1580 between England and Spain, begin with the following line: "For the durance of paix, which grace both our fair lands, nether shalt thee move thy navee twixt port nay harbour." Historians note that Sir Francis Drake later burnt the Spanish fleet in harbour.
"We acknowledge that from time to time during warfare people need to be shot, but we'd rather it was accidental rather than mal-intent," said Black Watch Commander Robert Greene. "So far the Americans have been a shining example of how to create low level casualties for allied forces."
Amid concerns that British troops would lose their perceived softer touch with the Iraqis, Commander Greene said that his boys would still be drinking tea, emailing home and playing football with locals.
"They'll just be stoked to the eyeballs with automatic weapons and grenades while they do it," he said.
It should be noted that several soldiers have voiced their discontent at being posted to such a hostile area of Iraq that is supposed to be under American "control" [sic]. One squaddie even said that if he were not home before Christmas he would give his vote to Mr Churchill's opposition party.
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