Officer: Two Allied POWs Believed Tortured And Killed By Iraqis
DHAHRAN, Saudi Arabia (AP) _ A high-ranking officer said Saturday that the allies believe Iraqis tortured and killed two airmen who had been held as prisoners of war.
The officer, who has access to sensitive intelligence reports, said it was believed the two were Britons. It wasn’t clear, however, whether they were among a small number of known POWs or were other British troops listed as missing in action.
″Several military intelligence sources are sure the men were tortured and killed,″ said the officer.
There are 13 known POWs, including nine Americans, two Britons, one Italian one Kuwaiti. There are an additional 66 MIAs, including 45 Americans, 10 Britons, 10 Saudis and one Italian.
Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of the Desert Storm coalition, is scheduled to meet with Iraqi generals at an undisclosed location near the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border to negotiate terms for a permanent cease-fire and the release of POWs.
President Bush had announced military commanders would meet Saturday, but the rendezvous has been postponed until no earlier than Sunday at Iraqi request.
The British Royal Air Force lost six Tornado GR-1s designed for low level attack during raids in Iraqi airbases at the start of the war Jan. 17. Two of the airmen were captured and displayed on television along with American crew members. Some of the POWs had bruises on their faces and appeared dazed. They have not been heard from since.
On Jan. 20, Iraqi television broadcast seven interviews with allied airmen.
One of the Britons shown, navigator Flight Lt. Adrian Nichols, 27, made a halting statement opposing the war. His pilot was also shown, and was identified by the British Defense ministry as Lt. John Gyart Peters.
Nichols was a member of Britain’s 15th Squadron.
He said his mission was ″to attack an Iraqi airfield ... I was shot down by an Iraqi system, I do not know what it was ... I think this war should be stopped ... I do not agree with this war on Iraq.″
Peters spoke nearly inaudibly in a hoarse voice.
Allied officials said it appeared the statements had been made under duress.
The Iraqis also had announced they would use captured POWs as ″human shields″ by taking them to strategic sites likely to be targets of allied bombers.
Iraq said Feb. 2 that an allied air raid killed one of the allied pilots used as a human shield at a Baghdad office of the Ministry of Industry. It said other POWs had been injured, but did not identify any of them.