"More than 1,000 Desert UK Forces"
It comes as the UK Parliament considers a bill to make it an offense for military personnel to refuse to participate in the occupation of a foreign country. Refusal would be punishable by a maximum life sentence in prison.
"[T]he BBC has been told that more than 1,000 military personnel went absent without leave and failed to return since the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003.
"Some were subsequently arrested but about 900 have evaded capture, according to official figures.
"During 2005 alone, 377 people deserted and are still missing. So far, this year, another 189 are on the run."
"It is unclear how many troops are deserting because they do not want to go to Iraq and how many are doing so because of personal reasons such as family problems."
"There is plenty of anecdotal evidence from military personnel that they are demoralised by the continuing conflict in Iraq and the fact that, despite their best efforts, there's little improvement in the situation there.
"Ben Griffin was a member of the elite SAS. He told his commanding officer, earlier this year, that he was not prepared to return to Iraq because he said he saw American forces carrying out what he thought were illegal acts.
"He was allowed to leave the military and he now says: 'I was disturbed by the general day-to-day attitude of the American troops. They treated Iraqis with contempt, not like human beings. They had a complete disregard for Iraqi lives and property.'
"Mr Griffin would never have considered deserting but he says that his views are shared by many others in the British military."
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Mark Brady - 5/29/2006
I've fixed the link. I had inadvertently inserted an extra back slash. I note that the story has been updated since I wrote my post.
Sudha Shenoy - 5/29/2006
29th May:- This page seems to have been removed from the BBC site. I wonder why?
M.D. Fulwiler - 5/28/2006
"Desertion" is quitting a government job.