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RAG-TAG BAND NOT FIT TO FIGHT.

Byline: DAVID SHARROCK in Southern Iraq

THEY were a sorry sight, those 64 Iraqi prisoners, sitting cross-legged in the sand, hands behind their backs, some bootless, some with tears coursing down grey cheeks.

They had just been brought off the Al Faw peninsula by K Company, Fire Support Group, 42 Commando Royal Marines, and were waiting to be taken to a vast tented PoW camp close to Umm Qasr.

It was difficult to make out a single fit-looking male among them. They looked as if they had passed through some awful torment which they dared not believe was over.

The sickliest had been put at the rear. There was a man with a chest wound and a field medical assessment pinned to his clothes. His hair was almost white and he looked at least 50 years old. The prisoner had a heart condition and had passed out, so he was being monitored by "bootnecks".

This was a surreal tableau; six heavily armed commandos passing ceaselessly among their rag-tag captives but pushing their heads down to the floor if any attempted to talk to his comrades.

Capt Jamie Norman, 25, said: "We want to maintain them in battle shock. If you keep them so they don't know if they're coming or going it helps in the interrogation process. But these guys are in such a mess we're also having to make sure that we don't lose any."

Eventually two coaches took them away. Capt Norman saw off the 150 prisoners, the third batch of the day. "They were scared what would be done to their families by Saddam if they did surrender," he said.
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 25, 2003
Words:273
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