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
from the Iraqi army are telling coalition forces that many more
Iraqi troops would surrender if they could.
Fallah, 42, was a
in the Iraqi regular army until he surrendered to U.S. forces
Sunday near the Shiite holy city of Najaf.
Wearing a loose
robe and eating military rations given to him by American troops,
Fallah appears gaunt and
. He says he had not eaten in days.
He says that weeks before the start of the war, Saddam dispatched
trusted members of his
force, the Fedayeen, to towns in central and southern Iraq to
and to intimidate regular Iraqi army troops in the field. Fallah
says the Fedayeen threatened to
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
manual labor in quarries and mines.
In an attempt to boost
, 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 Fedayeen.
Even though he risked the death of his six children by
, 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
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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