Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Foreign Fanatics Who Were Fighting for Saddam; WAR ON IRAQ: DICTATOR'S LOYALISTS ARE ACCUSED OF THEFT AND LOOTING

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Foreign Fanatics Who Were Fighting for Saddam; WAR ON IRAQ: DICTATOR'S LOYALISTS ARE ACCUSED OF THEFT AND LOOTING

Article excerpt

Byline: KEITH DOVKANTS

BRITISH forces searching corpses and prisoners in Basra have found identification papers showing that the majority of the diehard Fedayeen fighters facing coalition troops came from outside Iraq.

Syrians, Algerians and Tunisians feature prominently among those killed or taken alive - including one man who arrived from the Syrian capital, Damascus, on 25 March after the fighting began.

This confirms the belief that the main resistance was presented by Saddam's so-called martyr battalions - fanatics who were prepared to sacrifice their lives for a chance to fight the Americans and British.

Meanwhile, Saddam's loyalists who remain on the loose have turned to thieving and looting, angry citizens of Basra claimed today. A crowd chanted "Ali Baba! Ali Baba!" at a senior British officer in the centre of town in an effort to get soldiers to stop the plunder.

"It's our major problem at the moment," said Lieutenant Colonel Hugh Blackman, commanding officer of the Scots Dragoon Guards battle group.

"There is a very determined element out there intent on getting what they can. We can shoot over their heads, but it doesn't deter them. They know we will not shoot at people who are not shooting at us."

The crowd gathered around Colonel Blackman in Baghdad Street in the centre of town where British troops have established a presence.

One man, who declined to be named but said he was a local pharmacist, complained about a raid on the nearby hospital.

"They took medical appliances, blankets - anything they could lay their hands on," he said.

"They are the same people who said they were defending the city. Now they are robbing us.

"They have buried their weapons and hijacked vehicles to carry off their loot." At that point, he broke off and pointed at a passing lorry. …

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