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Report from Iraq: More Iraqi Troops Would Surrender if They
Could, says Iraqi Defector
31 Mar 2003, 18:08 UTC
Iraqi soldier surrenders to U.S. forces
Defectors from the Iraqi army are telling coalition forces
that many more Iraqi troops would surrender if they could.
Fallah, 42, was a sergeant in the Iraqi regular army
until he surrendered to U.S. forces Sunday near the Shiite holy
city of Najaf.
Wearing a loose civilian robe and eating military rations
given to him by American troops, Fallah appears gaunt and weary.
He says he had not eaten in days.
He says that weeks before the start of the war, Saddam dispatched
trusted members of his paramilitary force, the Fedayeen,
to towns in central and southern Iraq to quell civilian dissent
and to intimidate regular Iraqi army troops in the field. Fallah
says the Fedayeen threatened to execute his family if
he refused to fight the Americans.
Many Iraqi regular army defections and desertions have been
reported since the war began 12 days ago. Coalition officials
say they now hold as many as 8,000 prisoners of war, many of
whom have surrendered. But Fallah says he believes many more
Iraqis would surrender if it were not for Fedayeen threats and
Fallah describes life in the Iraqi army as extremely difficult.
He has received very little food and money for years of back-breaking
manual labor in quarries and mines.
In an attempt to boost morale, the government in Baghdad recently
raised the troops' salary from $3-12 a month. But Fallah says
everyone remained constantly under the watchful eyes of the
Even though he risked the death of his six children by deserting,
Fallah did so in the hope that coalition forces would quickly
defeat Saddam Hussein and give his family a chance for a better
Fallah predicts once Saddam is gone, the people will rise up
and retaliate against the Fedayeen. He says he believes
the Fedayeen fighters know that and that explains why they are
fighting so hard not to lose this war.
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