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300 on standby to answer Gulf call.

Byline: ALAN HARRIS

MORE than 300 Army reservists in Coventry and Warwickshire are on stand-by for possible military action against Iraq.

They are among about 1,500 personnel in the UK who are being sent call- out notices - the largest reserve call-out since the 1991 Gulf War.

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon told the Commons yesterday that further notices were likely to be issued in coming weeks.

Among those initially called up are 329 reservists from Coventry and Warwickshire.

The government last night announced the deployment to the Gulf of a powerful amphibious task force with 3,000 Royal Marine commandos to mount increasing pressure on Saddam Hussein.

Mr Hoon said the dispatch of the force - headed by two aircraft carriers - would leave the Iraqi dictator in no doubt that Britain "means business".

He told the Commons the deployment did not mean war with Iraq was "inev- itable", but he said it was "likely" that further forces would be sent to the region in the coming weeks.

Mr Hoon said the next formal report to the UN Security Council on weapons inspections would be made on January 27, but this was not necessarily a "decision point on Iraqi compliance".

He said non-compliance with the terms of the UN resolution could be declared at any time, before or after that date, as a result of "Iraqi failures".

Mr Hoon said: "While we want Saddam Hussein to disarm voluntarily, it is evident that we will not achieve this unless we continue to present him with a clear and credible threat of force.

"So the policy objectives also make clear that we must continue with military planning and preparations."

ARE you an Army reservist living in Coventry or Warwickshire? The Evening Telegraph would like to hear from you in the preparations for the call-up.

Please call the newsdesk on 024 7650 0314.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jan 8, 2003
Words:308
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