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Britain Warns of Casualties in Terror Campaign - 2001-09-24

Britain is stepping up its military and diplomatic efforts to support a U.S.-led campaign against global terrorism. Government officials are warning the public to prepare for casualties in the coming conflict.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says British servicemen face high risks as London throws its full support behind Washington's campaign against terrorism.

"There will be risks and there may well be casualties and that is a very heavy responsibility on all of us who are having to make these decisions. But it is obviously very, very much worse for those taking the risks and for their families," said Mr. Straw in a British radio interview.

Mr. Straw spoke shortly before departing for Iran. He is the highest-ranking British official to go there since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Mr. Straw is looking for Iran's diplomatic support against the Taleban rulers of neighboring Afghanistan, who have been sheltering Osama bin Laden, the chief suspect in the September 11 terrorist attacks against the United States.

In another development, Britain's deputy military chief of staff, General Anthony Piggot, has returned to London from Washington to brief government officials on plans to strike at the Bin Laden organization in Afghanistan.

British radio quotes defense officials as saying the blueprint calls for Britain to contribute soldiers from its special forces, as well as reconnaissance and attack aircraft.

Prime Minister Tony Blair convened a meeting of senior members of parliament from the committees on intelligence, defense, foreign affairs, and home security to brief them on the situation.