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Regime Threatening Children to Make Men Fight

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 27, 2003 – Saddam Hussein's regime is forcing men to fight by threatening children, U.S. Central Command officials in Qatar said today.

The Iraqi regime is becoming increasingly desperate and using threats of murder to survive. Members of the "Iraqi regime are seizing children from their homes near the town of an Najaf and are telling families the males must fight for the regime or they will all face execution, said Army Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, vice chief of operations at Central Command.

Brooks said the coalition forces are fighting well and, with overwhelming force, have defeated every threat facing them. He said more coalition forces arrive each day, in accordance with the war plan. DoD officials said more than 250,000 U.S. service members and 40,000 other coalition troops are involved with Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Coalition operations are degrading the regime's control of its forces. "We're seeing locally controlled military and paramilitary actions, frequent 'survival moves' by regime leaders and uncontrolled firing of air defense missiles," he said.

Special operations forces are performing missions throughout the country. "Strategic reconnaissance is ongoing to find weapons of mass destruction, ballistic missiles and regime leaders," Brooks said. "Unconventional warfare is ongoing in several areas to prepare Iraqis to join in liberation. Direct action occurs at times and places of our choosing."

Fighting overnight came from a mix of regular and irregular Iraqi forces. Vehicle-mounted irregulars east of an Najaf attacked units of the Army's V Corps, he said. "There were reports of a significant number of vehicles approaching," he said. "The reports were not accurate in terms of the size of the force, and V Corps units soundly defeated the attack, destroying most of the force."

In Nasiriyah, units of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force defeated an attack by irregulars supported by armored personnel carriers, rocket launchers and anti-aircraft artillery systems. "The battle lasted about 90 minutes," Brooks said. "The Marines did sustain some wounded, but remain fully effective."

British and American minesweepers are widening the channel that supply ships must use to dock at the port city of Umm Qasr. Yesterday, coalition forces cleared a channel 60 yards wide from the Persian Gulf to Umm Qasr.

"As we expanded that broader to create a 200-yard pathway, we identified some bottom-influence mines," Brooks said. "These are subsurface mines able to be programmed to count the number of hulls that pass over. After a certain point they detonate. Clearing operations continue today."

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