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 Wednesday, March 26, 2003




Civilian Casualty Update

THE crucial push for Baghdad began last night as allied warplanes bombarded the Republican Guard to clear the way for troops to zero in on President Saddam Hussein. The American vanguard was within 20 miles of 30,000 Republican Guards defending a city blanketed in black smoke from pyres of burning oil. Thousands more allied troops were rushing north to form a front line for the battle that will decide the war. Yesterday the Republican Guard’s Medina Division was pummelled continuously by bombers working on information from SAS, SBS and Delta forces close to Iraqi positions.

Geneva Convention on treatment of POWs

Adopted on August 12, 1949, at a conference in Geneva on protecting war victims, it came into force on October 21, 1950.

Article 13 states: "Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated ... Prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity."

Article 14 states: "Prisoners of war are entitled in all circumstances to respect for the persons and their honour."

LATEST The United States military has confirmed that one of its Apache helicopters has come down in Iraq. Iraqi television showed pictures of the helicopter, which it said was shot down near the city of Kerbala, 110 kilometres (70 miles) south-west of Baghdad

US General Tommy Franks says the two crewmen of an Apache Longbow helicopter shot down south of Baghdad are missing."The fate of the crew is uncertain right now, we characterise that crew, two men, as missing in action," General Franks told a news briefing at Central Command in Qatar. He said the helicopter was one of between 30 and 40 attacking a particular area. He denied that it had been shot down by farmers, as claimed by Iraq, but did not say what had forced it out of the air in Iraqi-held territory.

Apache helicopter downed in Iraqi hands.

A Syrian bus inside Iraq carrying 37 Syrian civilian passengers was hit by a U.S. missile Monday, killing five and injuring at least 15, according to Syrian government officials. The bus, filled with passengers trying to flee Iraq and the war, was about 140 kilometers from the Iraq-Syrian border when it was hit. "This is a pure act of savagery, an outrageous and unjustifiable attack on innocent civilians," said a Syrian government official. The Syrian government also told CNN that there were no "justifiable targets" in the area where the bus was hit.

Iraq's information minister said on Monday that 62 Iraqis had been killed by U.S.-led forces in the previous 24 hours and more than 400 had been wounded.Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf gave the figures at a news conference, breaking them down by city. In Baghdad, 194 people had been wounded in bombing but none had been killed. The most deaths were 30 in Babel, south of Baghdad, and 14 in Basra.He said there were also deaths and injuries in the southern towns of Najaf and Kerbala, in the southern province Qadisiya and in the northern provinces of Ninawa and Salah ad Din.

The US on Sunday made public its protest to Moscow over the sales by Russian companies of anti-tank missiles and jamming equipment to the Iraqi military.The State Department on Sunday voiced its anger at the Kremlin after a series of private requests as recently as last week by senior US government officials to Russia to halt the sales went ignored."Such equipment in the hands of Iraq may pose a direct threat to US and coalition armed forces," Brenda Greenberg, a State Department official, told CNN. "We thus have raised the issue with the Russian government a number of times, including at senior levels and particularly in the last two weeks. "Moscow's response had "so far not been satisfactory", Ms Greenberg said. Officials said the sales could help Iraqis endanger the lives of US and British forces

The U.S. 101st Airborne Division soldier accused of killing an officer and wounding 15 fellow soldiers is a Muslim who made anti-American statements after he was apprehended, according to soldiers who survived the attack. Military authorities identified the suspect, who was being questioned but had not been charged, as Sgt. Asan Akbar, 31.Akbar appears to have spent much of his youth in California. Officials at University of California, Davis, said a student named Asan Akbar, who also used the name Mark Fidel Kools, graduated in 1997. Akbar is believed to have studied at the Masjid Bilal Islamic Center, a mosque in Los Angeles.



Singapore's government on Monday ordered about 740 people who may have been exposed to victims of a mysterious flu-like illness to stay home for 10 days in a bid to contain the disease. Separately, Hong Kong's hospital chief has fallen ill with pneumonia symptoms and officials said Monday two more victims of the disease have died in Hong Kong.Singapore Health Minister Lim Hng Kiang said he was invoking the Infectious Diseases Act for what could be the first time since Singapore gained independence in 1965. The city state of 4 million people has recorded 65 cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, including 14 new cases reported on Monday, Lim said. Twelve patients are in serious condition in an intensive care unit, he added.

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