- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 17, 2003

President George W. Bush has called on the U.N. Security Council to end Iraq's economic isolation, while the commander of the U.S.-led forces, Gen. Tommy Franks, entered Baghdad for the first time since the war began four weeks ago.

Meanwhile, in the capital, Baghdad, coalition forces captured a half brother of Saddam Hussein.

Barzan Ibrahim Hasan is the second of Saddam's three half brothers to be captured, Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks said Thursday.

Hasan once headed Iraq's intelligence agency and was the "five of clubs" in the coalition's deck of 55 most-wanted Iraqis.

"Barzan is…an adviser to the former regime leader with extensive knowledge of the regime's inner working. There were no friendly or enemy casualties," Brooks said at a Centcom briefing in Doha, Qatar.

He said the capture resulted from tips provided by Iraqis but declined to give any more information about the operation.

In Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq, four people were shot and killed as violence continued. Coalition commanders have admitted U.S. troops shot and killed a number of Iraqis during a protest in Mosul.

U.S. forces had earlier denied responsibility for the killings.

Brooks said U.S. Marines fired at demonstrators earlier this week because they came under attack from people shooting guns and throwing rocks.

"It was lethal fire and some Iraqis were killed as a result of that," said Brooks. "We think the number is somewhere on the order of seven. And there may have been some wounded as well."

Meanwhile, CNN reported that Secretary of State Colin Powell expects to travel to Syria "to have very candid and straightforward discussions" with President Bashar Assad.

Powell's trip comes during a week of increasing diplomatic pressure from the Bush administration, which has accused Syria of producing weapons of mass destruction and giving sanction to former Iraqi government officials.

Wednesday Bush called for the removal of the sanctions regime imposed on Iraq after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait 13 years ago.

"Now that Iraq is liberated the United Nations should lift economic sanctions on that country," Bush told a crowd of workers at a Boeing aircraft factory in St. Louis.

The president said Saddam's regime had "passed into history" and promised the lives of the Iraqi people would be "better than anything they have known for generations."

Scott McClellan, a White House spokesman, said ending the sanctions would help restore a "normal trading relationship as soon as possible."

McClellan said the United States was preparing to table a U.N. resolution ending the U.N.-administered "oil-for-food" program, allowing Iraq instead to sell its oil reserves freely on world markets.

However, before sanctions can be lifted or suspended, the question of whether Iraq still has weapons of mass destruction will have to be answered. The requirement that Iraq demonstrate it is free of weapons forms a central part of the existing U.N. resolutions.

Franks told reporters in Baghdad that his trip to the Iraqi capital was partly an "emotional event" to show appreciation to commanders "who have done the bone-crushing hard work."

Franks briefed Bush of his visit from one of Saddam's former palaces. Franks declined to give details about his conversation with the president, saying that he "simply provided the president and the National Security Council a statement of where we are in the operation."

"I think over the past week we have seen water being turned back on in the country, we have seen power being turned back on in this country, we've seen hospitals going back to work all over the country," Franks said.

He cautioned that there was still fighting going on in Iraq.

"Everyday, we see remnants of what we call Arab fighters, or foreign fighters, who have come in from a number of other countries," he said.

Meanwhile, the United States has put a price tag of more than $300,000 on the head of the former Iraqi president, whose whereabouts and status remain unknown.

Posters distributed around Iraq also offer a reward for the arrest of other Iraqi leaders. Above the names and photos appear the words: "These men are wanted for crimes against the Iraq people."

In other developments:

— French President Jacques Chirac said the European Union planned to organize an airlift to allow wounded Iraqis to receive medical treatment in Europe. Chirac said the European Commission would arrange the airlift "as quickly as possible" in cooperation with the United States and Britain. At an EU summit in Athens, Chirac said, "We are also prepared … to offer aid with medical treatment."

— The U. N. World Food Program has begun an operation to deliver a weekly order of more than 10,000 tons of food aid to northern Iraq. A hundred U.N. trucks have been sent from Turkey, bound for the Kurdish-controlled regions of Iraq. Prior to the war, the United Nations estimated that 60 percent of Iraq's 24 million people depended on government food rations to survive.

— Engineers have repaired a crucial water station in Baghdad serving almost a million people which had been bombed, the International Committee of the Red Cross said. Efforts are under way to restore the electricity supply, which was cut as the beginning of this month, the Red Cross said.

-0-

(Reported by Pamela Hess at the Pentagon, Nicholas M. Horrock and Ghassan al-Kadi in Baghdad; William Reilly at the United Nations; Kathy Gambrell at the White House; and included pool reports from the White House and Centcom)

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide