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Tony Blair Says 2003 Iraq Invasion Played a Role in Rise of ISIS

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Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair apologized in an interview Sunday for mistakes in planning the 2003 invasion of Iraq and acknowledged that the U.S-led invasion aided the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

Coalition leaders had failed to understand what would happen after the removal of Saddam Hussein as Iraq’s dictator, Blair said.

The interview, which aired on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, comes as a committee in the United Kingdom continues to investigate the lead up to the invasion. A U.S.-led coalition that included the United Kingdom invaded the country despite protests from some allies. The U.S., under the leadership of President George W. Bush, cited evidence now proven false that Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction.

“I apologize for the fact that the intelligence we received was wrong,” said Blair. “The program in the form that we thought it was did not exist in the way that we thought.”

Still, the former Labor Party leader emphasized that he would not apologize from removing Hussein, who was known for using chemical weapons on his own people. He said, “Even today, in 2015, it’s better that he’s not there than that he is there.”

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Write to Justin Worland at justin.worland@time.com