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Old 03-22-2003, 08:17 AM   #1
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As always, it's hard to know what's really going on in the fog of war, but this is certainly good news if it's true:,00.html

March 22, 2003

Conscripts shoot their own officers rather than fight
From Tom Newton Dunn with 40 Commando near al-Faw, southern Iraq

IRAQI conscripts shot their own officers in the chest yesterday to avoid a fruitless fight over the oil terminals at al-Faw. British soldiers from 40 Commando’s Charlie Company found a bunker full of the dead officers, with spent shells from an AK47 rifle around them.
Stuck between the US Seals and the Royal Marines, whom they did not want to fight, and a regime that would kill them if they refused, it was the conscripts’ only way out.

In total, 40 Commando had collected more than 100 prisoners of war yesterday from the few square miles of the al-Faw peninsula that they controlled. Two of them were a general in the regular Iraqi Army and a brigadier. They came out from the command bunker where they had been hiding after 40 Commando’s Bravo Company fired two anti-tank missiles into it. With them was a large sports holdall stuffed with money. They insisted that they had been about to pay their troops, to the disbelief of their captors.

These were the men who had left their soldiers hungry, poorly armed and almost destitute for weeks, judging by the state we had seen them in, while appearing to keep the money for themselves.

It was only as dawn broke that the 900 Royal Marine commandos, who had moved forward during the night, realised the pitiful shape of the enemy. The first white flag was hoisted by three soldiers in a trench just outside the complex’s north gate, which had been surrounded by heavy machinegunners from Command Company.

They were taken prisoner by Corporal Fergus Gask, 26, who may have accepted the first surrender of the war. “We started engaging their positions with GPMGs (general purpose machineguns) when I noticed this white flag go up,” he said. “I didn’t know whether it was a trick or not, but I approached the trench anyway, probably a pretty silly thing to do if I think about it.

“But as soon as I saw their faces I knew they were genuine. They actually looked very relieved they didn’t have to fight any more. And they became very pleased to see us when they realised we weren’t going to do them any harm.”

The dawn light appeared to have provoked an exodus.

Small groups of dishevelled Iraqis were standing up all around us with their hands in the air, or with a dirty white T-shirt tied to a stick waving above them. Every time you turned around, a new trickle of silhouettes emerged from the horizon walking slowly towards us. One Marine joked: “Oh no. They’re surrendering at us from all sides.”

Each prisoner was thoroughly searched before he was accepted into captivity in a procedure that the commandos had clearly practised many times. The injured were quickly treated and a handful received almost immediate helicopter evacuation from the oil terminal to HMS Ocean, where a temporary hospital for PoWs has been set up.

As a new day began, so did the Marines’ gradual expansion outwards into the large expanse of waste ground that is still pockmarked with shell craters from the Iran-Iraq War.To save them having to translate from Arabic maps, 40 Commando named the clear paths they had established or wanted to seize with London street names: Downing Street, Abbey Road or Fulham Road.

Engineers, meanwhile, began the work of shutting down the many oil pipeline valves.
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