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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 March 2006, 18:14 GMT
Red Caps inquest hears of attack
From top left: Sergeant Simon Alexander Hamilton-Jewell; Corporal Russell Aston; Corporal Paul Graham Long; Corporal Simon Miller; Lance-Corporal Benjamin Hyde; Lance-Corporal Thomas Keys.
Some of the six who died were about to head back to the UK
Six Royal Military Policemen killed by a mob in Iraq in 2003 died at a spot where British troops had been attacked only days before, an inquest has heard.

Lieutenant Ross Kennedy, of the Parachute Regiment, said that two days earlier his troops came under fire at the police station in Majar al-Kabir.

On the day of the killings, his patrol again passed close to the station.

He told the Oxford hearing his troops would have fought to save the Red Caps if they had known they were there.

The paratroopers had had to rely on reinforcements to rescue them when they themselves came under attack, he said.

They would have been determined to save the Red Caps if only they had known how close they were to them when patrolling in the area two days later.

He said: "You wouldn't just turn your back on a fellow human being. We would have fought to the death."

The six Red Caps killed included Sgt Simon Hamilton-Jewell, 41, from Chessington, Surrey; and 30-year-old Cpl Russell Aston from Swadlincote, Derbyshire

The others were all in their twenties: Cpl Paul Long, 24, of Colchester; L/Cpl Benjamin McGowan Hyde, 23, from Northallerton, North Yorkshire; L/Cpl Tom Keys, 20, from Bala, North Wales; and Cpl Simon Miller, 21, from Tyne and Wear.

Some of the men were at the end of their duty in Iraq and were due to fly home the next day.

The inquest, in Oxford, is expected to last several weeks.

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