Red Cross Yet to Visit U.S. Prisoners of War

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 31, 2003 | Go to article overview

Red Cross Yet to Visit U.S. Prisoners of War


Byline: Audrey Hudson, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Military officials said yesterday that they do not know how many Americans are being held by Iraq as war prisoners and that they will not know until the International Committee of the Red Cross is given access.

The Red Cross has been in talks with Iraqi authorities about several subjects, including prisoners of war, since Tuesday, but said on Saturday that no date has been set for officials to interview the POWs.

Gen. Richard B. Myers, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, said officials have the number of missing soldiers and an estimate of how many POWs are being held by Iraqis, but declined to give an exact number on CBS' "Face the Nation."

The Associated Press combined military and family accounts, and reported yesterday that seven Americans have been captured and 14 are missing.

Last week, a dozen supply soldiers were ambushed in southern Iraq and five were later shown on Iraqi television being interrogated. The dead bodies of other soldiers also were shown.

The Pentagon reported this weekend that 17 Americans are missing, including those caught in the ambush.

Allied forces have more than 4,000 Iraqi POWs, whom they have allowed the Red Cross to visit, Gen. Myers said.

"We would hope [Iraq] would do the honorable thing, the right thing, and allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit our POWs as they're required to do under the Geneva Convention," Gen. Myers said.

Mohammed Aldouri, Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that "there is a possibility" the Red Cross could visit POWs. He denied there have been any executions of American or British military.

"The evidence is not enough," Mr. Aldouri said of the photos shown by Al Jazeera of American POWs and dead bodies.

"You have to have witnesses on that, and you know, as a lawyer myself, I cannot accept only photos to know exactly what is going [on]," Mr. …

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