Christians living in and around the Middle East have been put in jeopardy by the US-led war in Iraq, the archbishop of Canterbury has said.
Writing in the Times, Dr Rowan Williams said the British government was partly to blame for the view in the region that Christians supported the "crusading west".
He claimed this view holds across the whole of the Church of England and accused Tony Blair of ignoring warnings that the Middle East's Christian population would be put at risk by military action in Iraq.
Describing the conflict-stricken country as being in "chaos", Dr Williams wrote that the number of Christians across the wider Middle East had fallen by about three quarters since coalition troops invaded Iraq in 2003, with attacks upon Christians becoming "notably more frequent".
"The results are now painfully adding to what was already a difficult situation for Christian communities across the region," the archbishop claimed.
"The first Christian believers were Middle Easterners. It's a very sobering thought that we might live to see the last native Christian believers in the region."
But defence secretary Des Browne told the newspaper that there were no immediate plans to alter the role of Britain's 7,000 troops stationed in Iraq, saying: "There is no evidence that the strategy is not still on course."