Tony Blair has apologised for "mistakes" made during the Iraq war and has accepted that the 2003 invasion is partly to blame for the rise of ISIS.
Speaking to CNN, the former prime minister said mistakes were made in planning for the war and failing to understand what would happen after the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime, but added that he did not regret bringing down the dictator.
Blair, who was prime minister from 1997 to 2007, also apologised for receiving inaccurate intelligence about Iraq's weapons programme.
"I can say that I apologise for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong," said Blair, "because even though he had used chemical weapons extensively against his own people, against others, the programme in the form that we thought it was did not exist in the way that we thought.
"I can also apologise for some of the mistakes in planning and, certainly, our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime."
However, Blair said the world was a better place for the removal of Saddam from power in 2003. "I find it hard to apologise for removing Saddam," he said. "I think, even from today in 2015, it is better that he's not there than that he is there."
He also conceded that there were "elements of truth" in the claim that the Iraq war can be blamed for the rise of ISIS and the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis.
"Of course, you can't say that those of us who removed Saddam in 2003 bear no responsibility for the situation in 2015," he said. "But it's important also to realise, one, that the Arab Spring which began in 2011 would also have had its impact on Iraq today, and two, ISIS actually came to prominence from a base in Syria, and not in Iraq."
Asked how he felt about being branded a "war criminal" by people who believe the Iraq war was illegal, Blair said he believed he was doing the right thing at the time.
"Now, whether it's right or not, that's for – everyone can have their judgment about that."
Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.
Contact Jamie Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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