More than 1,000 members of the British armed forces have deserted since that start of the war in Iraq three years ago, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported Sunday. The BBC did not say how it arrived at the figure. Earlier this week, Labor Party lawmaker John McDonnell told the House of Commons that the level of desertion had tripled since 2003. However, the Ministry of Defense said the army knew of only "a handful" of deserters since 1989, and said there had been no significant increase in the number of soldiers going absent without leave. "There is no evidence to suggest that operational commitments or any other factor significantly contributes to the figures," said a ministry spokeswoman, who, like other civil servants in Britain is not allowed to give her name.