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DoD Leaders Urge Iraqis to Surrender

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2003 – Over the past month, coalition aircraft have dropped more than 15 million leaflets over Iraq urging soldiers not to fight and telling civilians how to protect themselves.

As Operation Iraqi Freedom began, there had been some results.

Coalition troops are driving toward Baghdad and while some Iraqi troops have been surrendering, U.S. officials are hoping for more.

"The regime is starting to lose control of their country," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said today at a Pentagon press conference. "The confusion of Iraqi officials is growing."

The attacks of the last few days have hit communications facilities and cut command and control nodes. "Their ability to see what is happening on the battlefield, to communicate with their forces and to control their country is slipping away," Rumsfeld said.

He said the Iraqi leaders around Saddam Hussein are beginning to realize that the Iraqi dictator "is history. And as that realization sets in, their behavior is likely to begin to tip and to change."

He said those leaders close to Hussein "will likely begin searching for a way to save themselves." Those whose loyalty to the regime is enforced by fear are likely to understand they have nothing more to fear from Hussein and may cooperate with coalition forces.

"Officers and soldiers in the field will increasingly see that their interests lie not in dying for a doomed regime, but in helping the forces of Iraq's liberation," the secretary said.

Rumsfeld once again issued a warning to Iraqi military leaders not to use chemical or biological weapons against anyone. He also told Iraqi officials not to set fire to Iraq's oil fields or to damage dams or waterways to cause floods. He also told the Iraqi military not to use innocent civilians as human shields.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard Myers also had a message for Iraqi military personnel. "I urge you in the strongest possible terms: Do the honorable thing, stop fighting that you may live to enjoy a free Iraq where you and your children can grow and prosper," he said.

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