US parading civilians as POWs, says Baghdad
BAGHDAD: The Iraqi authorities accused US-led forces on Wednesday of kidnapping local civilians and showing them off as captured prisoners of war.
A communique read out by a military spokesman on Iraqi state television said US. and British forces advancing through southern Iraq had broken the rules of war by displaying Iraqi civilians as POWs at Umm Qasr and near Basra.
“(This was) to show public opinion they had seized military men...particularly after they promised their people that the Iraqi army, leadership and people would surrender after a few days,” the communique said. “We hold the Americans and the British responsible for violating international laws and conventions by detaining civilians and considering them as prisoners of war.”
Fierce Iraqi resistance at the southern port of Umm Qasr held up U.S. and British efforts to move humanitarian aid into southern Iraq for days.
‘US will lose Iraq war’: The United States does not have the military means to take over Baghdad and will lose the war against Iraq, former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter said. “The United States is going to leave Iraq with its tail between its legs, defeated. It is a war we can not win,” he told private radio TSF in an interview broadcast here Tuesday evening. “We do not have the military means to take over Baghdad and for this reason I believe the defeat of the United States in this war is inevitable,” he said.
“Every time we confront Iraqi troops we may win some tactical battles, as we did for ten years in Vietnam but we will not be able to win this war, which in my opinion is already lost,” Ritter added. Ritter resigned in August 1998 after accusing both Washington and the UN of not doing enough to support the weapons inspectors.
AI for protection of civilians: Amnesty International on Wednesday called on all military authorities involved in the war in Iraq to step up protection of Iraqi civilians as fighting increased in urban areas. “As fighting increasingly moves into urban areas it is essential that the military authorities step up their attempts to protect civilians,” the human rights group said in a written statement issued in London.
“We have seen reports from Basra of the impact that urban warfare can have on civilians and we are seeking explicit information from the military authorities on the steps they have taken to minimise civilian casualties,” Amnesty said.
The organisation called on “all parties” in the conflict to “adhere strictly to the rules of international humanitarian law regarding the protection of civilians or civilian objects.” Amnesty said there should be “no direct attack on civilians or civilian objects” and “no attack on the infrastructure even if used for military purposes.”
It also warned against “attacks on media outlets solely because they are being used for propaganda purposes,” concluding that all parties should refrain from using civilians as ‘human shields’.
‘Biggest ever food operation needed’: Iraq will probably need the biggest humanitarian operation in history to feed its entire population after the US-led invasion, the UN’s food aid agency said on Tuesday.
“What we’re looking at is having to feed, eventually, 27 million people,” said Trevor Rowe, chief spokesman for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
“This is the whole population of Iraq. So, what we are envisioning is an enormous programme, probably the biggest humanitarian operation in history,” he told reporters in an interview. —Agencies