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Coalition Aircraft 'Paper' Iraq With Leaflets

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 19, 2003 – With President Bush's deadline for Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq fast approaching, coalition aircraft dropped almost 2 million leaflets over Iraq March 19, U.S. Central Command officials said.

This was the second million-plus leaflet drop in two days. Coalition forces use the flyers and Commando Solo broadcasts into the country to get information to Iraqi citizens. Saddam Hussein controls all other aspects of information in the country.

The leaflets dropped today warned Iraqis to stay away from military targets. They informed the Iraqi people that coalition forces do not wish to harm them. Leaflets also pointed to frequencies for Commando Solo broadcasts.

Other leaflets stress that if Saddam Hussein uses chemical or biological weapons against the coalition, the main casualties will be Iraqi civilians. An English translation of one of the leaflets says, "Coalition forces are prepared and well-equipped to defend themselves against chemical weapons attacks. Your comrades and innocent Iraqi people will be victims if Saddam uses chemical weapons."

The leaflets urge Iraqi soldiers not to use chemical weapons and warns they will be prosecuted as war criminals if they do.

The drops bring the total of leaflets dropped in Iraq to more than 15 million this year. DoD officials said they believe the leaflets are having an effect on the Iraqi population.

News reports indicate that residents of Baghdad are taking the warnings seriously. Reporters are saying many Iraqis are sealing rooms in anticipation of a chemical or biological attack.

News reports from Turkey indicate the Turkish Parliament may vote as early as today to give coalition aircraft overflight permission. Also, the State Department authorized the voluntary departure of DoD families from Incirlik Air Base in Adana, Turkey. The U.S. government will pay for the flights out of the area and -- once the danger is passed -- the flights back.

In Afghanistan, soldiers in the vicinity of Khowst reported a rocket attack. They also spotted men moving toward their position. Officials said there was an exchange of small arms fire and one man was possibly killed. There were no American casualties.

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