April 27, 2003


(04-27) 10:40 PDT CAMP BUCCA, Iraq (AP) —

Chanting “Saddam no, Bush yes,” some 200 Iraqi prisoners of war were let go Sunday at the coalition’s main internment camp in the desert near the southern port of Umm Qasr.

The men, many of them barefooted, shook hands with the American soldiers guarding the camp before boarding buses and trucks to be driven to nearby Basra, southern Iraq’s largest city. . . .

“I gave orders to my five men not to fight and we surrendered,” he said, his eyes red from the sand. “Americans were coming for our own good. … What has Saddam done for us? I’m 30 and I haven’t enjoyed life — no justice, no piece of land, no car.” . . .

The men gave thumbs-up signs and peppered journalists with questions: “No more Saddam statues?” “No more military service?” “No more executions?”

Hussam Abbas, from Basra, said all he had known in his 25 years were prisons and military service. “I gave myself in so that I would have a chance to be evacuated and not to come back to Iraq,” he said. “But now, I am happy. We got rid of Saddam who oppressed us.”

Hanging out a bus window, Mussalam Hassan, 22, shouted happily: “We did not fire a single shot!” He said he was taken prisoner in Rumeila on March 21, the second day of the war.

I sure hope so.

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