LONDON – The Latest on Britain's inquiry into its role in the Iraq war (all times local):
The head of Britain's Iraq War inquiry has released a damning verdict on a conflict he says was mounted on flawed intelligence, executed with "wholly inadequate" planning.
Retired civil servant John Chilcot says "the U.K. chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort."
He says then-Prime Minister Tony Blair's government presented an assessment of the threat posed by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's weapons with "certainty that was not justified," and military planning for the war and its aftermath were not up to the task.
Chilcot oversaw an inquiry that has taken seven years to complete, heard from 150 witnesses and analyzed 150,000 documents.
Anti-war activists and relatives of some dead British troops hope the Chilcot report will find the Iraq war illegal, opening the way for former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to be prosecuted for war crimes.
Sarah O'Connor, whose brother, Sgt. Bob O'Connor, died in a plane crash in Iraq in 2005, says "that man has been the puppet master, and it's about time that we came along and we cut his strings."
John Chilcot, a retired civil servant, has stressed that his inquiry is not a court of law, and the International Criminal Court has said that the "decision by the U.K. to go to war in Iraq falls outside the court's jurisdiction."
Chilcot said he wanted the report to be "a really reliable account of all that happened that really matters" over Iraq, with lessons for the future.
Peter Brierley, whose son Lance Cpl. Shaun Brierley was killed in 2003, said he hoped the report "comes somewhere close to what I expect, which is to say that Tony Blair did go to war illegally."
The official inquiry into Britain's role in the Iraq War is releasing its findings Wednesday, more than seven years after hearings began and 13 years on from the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Retired civil servant John Chilcot is due to publish his 2.6-million-word report on a divisive conflict that — by the time British combat forces left in 2009 — had killed 179 British troops, almost 4,500 American personnel and more than 100,000 Iraqis.
Iraq descended into sectarian strife after the occupiers dismantled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's government and military apparatus, unleashing chaos that helped give rise to the Islamic State group.
The war has overshadowed the legacy of Britain's then-leader, Prime Minister Tony Blair. His government has been accused of exaggerating intelligence about Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction in order to build support for invasion.
Blair — who declined to comment on the report before publication — has always said his government did not invent or distort intelligence.
Associated Press Writer Jonathan Shenfield contributed to this story.