BBC won't pull out of Iraq

The BBC has reasserted its commitment to covering the war in Iraq, despite the worsening security situation and suggestions that coalition forces will withdraw.

In June, the BBC's head of newsgathering, Fran Unsworth, said that if there were a full-scale civil war in Iraq — if institutions of government disappeared and the coalition forces withdrew — then the BBC would be unlikely to operate in such circumstances.

Last week outgoing UN secretary general Kofi Annan (pictured) said of the situation in Iraq "a few years ago, when we had the strife in Lebanon and other places, we called that a civil war; this is much worse."

But Unsworth has now told Press Gazette: "We are committed to staying there as long as we can protect the safety of our staff. At the moment we are reasonably confident that we are ok — we are as safe as we can be, so we have no plans to make any changes."

She added: "I don't know if Kofi Annan is right or not, but if there was a civil war, obviously that would be something that we would want to report.

"When I said that before, it wasn't [the case] that we would pull out if there were a civil war, it was would that mean that we couldn't protect our staff? At the moment we think that we are, so we are staying."

Asked whether the worsening security situation had affected her staff, Unsworth said it had not affected BBC journalists where they were based.

There remains a basic team of nine journalist working in Baghdad providing English language content for the corporation, in addition to around 10 staff who work for the Arabic service.

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