April 27, 2003


200 freed Iraqi prisoners of war leave desert camp singing and cheering for President Bush (DIANA ELIAS, April 27, 2003, Associated Press)
Chanting "Saddam no, Bush yes," some 200 Iraqi prisoners of war were let go Sunday at the coalition's main internment camp in the desert near the southern port of Umm Qasr.

The men, many of them barefooted, shook hands with the American soldiers guarding the camp before boarding buses and trucks to be driven to nearby Basra, southern Iraq's largest city.

Their departure brought to 700 the number of POWs released since Friday, said Maj. Stacy Garrity of the U.S. Army's 800th Military Police Brigade, which runs the camp. Around 5,800 more prisoners, including some from Jordan and Syria, await screening and possible release, she said.

"Probably half of the camp will be gone in the next week and a half," said Garrity, who is from Athens, Pa.

Wearing a towel on his head as protection from the scorching heat and blowing sand, one smiling POW, Mahdi Saleh, told The Associated Press: "My mother will die when she sees me."

It may take a while. Once in Basra, the penniless Saleh will have to find transportation home to Mosul, a city some 500 miles away in northern Iraq.

Saleh, a junior Iraqi army officer who is the father of four, said he was taken prisoner at the Qadisiya Dam at the beginning of the war that toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein.

"I gave orders to my five men not to fight and we surrendered," he said, his eyes red from the sand. "Americans were coming for our own good. ... What has Saddam done for us? I'm 30 and I haven't enjoyed life -- no justice, no piece of land, no car."

Tell us again why war wasn't the "answer"? Posted by Orrin Judd at April 27, 2003 11:25 PM
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