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U.K. Iraq Inquiry Due To Set Out Its Remit

LONDON (Reuters) -- The former civil servant in charge of the long-awaited inquiry into Britain's involvement in the Iraq war is due to say how he will carry out the investigation on July 30.

John Chilcot is to set out the inquiry's terms of reference and how it will be conducted after the government was forced to backtrack on its initial decision to hold it in private.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown had asked Chilcot last month to chair the inquiry in a move seen as an attempt to heal some of the rifts in his Labour Party caused by the decision to join the U.S.-led invasion six years ago.

But Brown came under attack for his initial decision to hold the hearings in private, his opponents accusing him of a cover-up.

His office later said it believed it would be able to hold some sessions in public while not compromising national security.

Opposition parties are pushing for a large part of the inquiry to be held in public.

The wide-ranging inquiry, which will cover the period before 9/11 until July 2009, is not expected to report before the general election, due by June 2010, an election which opinion polls have the Conservatives on track to win.

Under Prime Minister Tony Blair, Britain sent 45,000 troops to join the invasion to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The coalition accused Saddam of having weapons of mass destruction, but none were found.

A total of 179 British service members were killed in Iraq. Britain is in the process of withdrawing its remaining troops from southern Iraq.