Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Desperate Hunt for Missing Soldiers; Allies Maintain Advance despite Fierce Resistance

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Desperate Hunt for Missing Soldiers; Allies Maintain Advance despite Fierce Resistance

Article excerpt

Byline: PATRICK SAWER;HUGH DOUGHERTY

TWO British soldiers are feared to have been captured by Iraqi soldiers after their convoy came under attack in southern Iraq.

Their families have been told the news. The possible capture of the soldiers raises the alarming prospect of them being paraded in Iraqi television in the manner of the American PoWs already shown bruised and frightened.

At US Central Command in Qatar, Group Captain Al Lockwood, a spokesman for British forces in the Gulf, said British vehicles had come under attack from "regular army Iraqi force".

He told Sky News: "The formation dispersed. When they regrouped they found one of the Land Rovers that the soldiers had been in was unoccupied. They are searching the area looking for them."

The Ministry of Defence said the attack took place on Sunday, but declined to give details of which unit the soldiers belonged to or where the attack happened.

The MoD said in a statement: "There was an attack on British vehicles in southern Iraq on 23 March. Two soldiers are missing and every effort is being made to find and recover them. Their next of kin have been informed."

The MoD said it was being vague about the suspected location of the soldiers for safety and operational reasons.

Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George Bush have accused the Iraqi regime of a flagrant violation of the Geneva Convention after five US prisoners were shown on Iraqi television.

Group Captain Lockwood said he expected any potential prisoners to be treated in accordance with the convention - "give them protection from the fighting, provide them with shelter, water and food and in due course inform the International Red Cross of their safety and whereabouts".

He said allied troops have met resistance from "people loyal to Saddam Hussein's regime".

"They are very much irregular forces providing difficulties for us with their guerrilla tactics. However, we are maintaining our advance ... and will come back and look after them in our own time," he added.

Several British units, including the 7th Armoured Brigade and the Royal Irish Regiment, have been fighting Iraqi troops throughout the southern part of the country. …

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