TWO soldier brothers who returned home from battle in Iraq have been talking about their harrowing experiences in the war zone.
Jason and Thomas Elhasham, of Whalley Road, Accrington, were reunited with their delighted family - including father Suliman and brother Adam - after spending nearly five months away.
The brothers, both former pupils of Accrington Moorhead High School, are now looking forward to a well-earned rest - but say they will never be able to forget their time in the Gulf.
Jason, 23, a paratrooper with the First Battalion Parachute Regiment, said he still fears for his comrades after members of his battalion were caught up in an attack in Majar al-Kabir on Tuesday.
Iraqi gunmen injured one man when they attacked with grenade launchers and machine-guns, before firing on an RAF helicopter sent to help and injuring the seven paras on board.
Jason, whose best friend is in intensive care following a road accident in Iraq, said: "I came back to England a month ago but the majority of my friends are still over there - they were supposed to come back next week. I haven't been able to find out if any of them were caught up in the attack. I don't know what's going to happen now."
Jason, who has previously served in Kenya and Northern Ireland, said that he was mainly based in the northern town of Amarah, where his duties included policing the town and stopping looters.
He said: "The scariest moment was when we came under fire - it was far too close for comfort and we all had to run to the trenches. It was also very hard dealing with casualties - whether they were British soldiers or Iraqi civilians. But at the end of the day we were there to do a job and when you join the Army you always have it in the back of your mind that you may have to go to war."
For 18-year-old Thomas, who returned home last Thursday, it was his first posting abroad as an ambulance driver with the Royal Logistics Corps. He was able to meet up with Jason several times during the war.
He said: "I was a stand-by ambulance driver, meaning I was attached to different regiments and gave medical cover where it was needed. The hardest moment for me was when a tank overturned, leaving two British soldiers trapped underneath for five minutes. We were the first people there but the soldiers died.
"The living conditions in Iraq were very uncomfortable - we had to wear goggles and scarves over our mouths because of the sandstorms. We're both glad to be back as we missed our family and home comforts."
Their father, Suliman, said he was relieved that his sons were back safely and offered his sympathy to the families of those killed in the war.
He said: "It has been a horrible few months and I am glad it's over. It was really bad for me when they left but now I am the happiest person in the world."