"The British guys on the front-line could not believe what was happening. They were on pre-war exercises when all of a sudden these Iraqis turned up out of nowhere, with their hands in the air, saying they wanted to surrender.

"They had heard firing and thought it was the start of the war.

"The Paras are a tough, battle-hardened lot but were moved by the plight of the Iraqis. There was nothing they could do other than send them back.

"They were a motley bunch and you could barely describe them as soldiers - they were poorly equipped and didn't even have proper boots. Their physical condition was dreadful and they had obviously not had a square meal for ages. No one has ever known a group of so-called soldiers surrender before a shot has been fired in anger."

Last night the Ministry of Defence officially denied the incident had taken place, but the story was corroborated by an intelligence source.

After the initial humour, this isn't funny.


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