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'Iraqis greeting invaders being shot'
Shyam Bhatia on the Kuwait-Iraq border |
March 29, 2003 01:03 IST
Civilians who greet US and British troops are being executed on President Saddam Hussein's orders, according to a former chief scientist of the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission, Dr Hussein Shahristani.
The most recent outrage was carried out in the small town of Khidr, between Nasiriyah and Samawa, where some families were accused of cheering the US soldiers who drove through their locality, Dr Shahristani who is now chairman of the Iraq Refugee Aid Council, told rediff.com
Their executions started as soon as the US soldiers left, the scientist, who is now based in Kuwait, said.
"These [coalition] troops pass through local towns and villages and do not stop for long enough to clean up Saddam's terror apparatus.
"When they depart, the civilian families are left to the mercy of Ba'ath party officials and the thugs in charge of Saddam's fidayeen militia.
"Those Iraqis who refuse to serve on the frontline are also being shot," he said.
Dr Shahristani said he had been informed of the killing of a tribal leader, Rahim Karim, who was late by five minutes for a meeting with Saddam's cousin and local governor, Aly Hasan Al Majeed.
Karim had come to discuss how members of his tribe could be mobilised for frontline duty, but Majeed lost his temper and had him shot.
Perhaps, the execution of Karim and others goes some way in explaining British army reports of a civilian uprising against Saddam in the city of Basra.
The reports are yet to be confirmed.
Earlier this week, civilians were reported to be coming out of Basra to inform coalition forces about the whereabouts of Saddam's supporters and assist in directing air and artillery strikes against their own city.
British military officers said the locals are telling them about the movements of the paramilitaries local to the regime.
This is proving crucial in identifying targets for British and American warplanes carrying out sorties.
One British official said, "Most of it [information] is coming from Iraqi people who are fed up with the regime and who are sneaking out across the bridges to tell us what is going on in the city.
"It is very risky, but the fact that so many people are prepared to do this indicates the level of opposition that there is to Saddam within Basra."