UNITED NATIONS -- Witnesses told of depraved killings, torture and gang-rape of Kuwaitis, and of babies yanked from incubators by Iraqi troops as the Security Council prepared yesterday for tomorrow's authorization of military force to reverse the August invasion.
Kuwait, using live and videotaped testimony, depicted a series of atrocities by Iraqi forces that its ambassador, Mohammad A. Abulhasan, said demonstrated "a deviant inclination to sadism mingled with profound malice."
Every day in occupied Kuwait "begins and ends with the suffocating fear of death," one witness, Jamal Abdul Rahman, said, telling of the gang-rape of women at police stations and the arrest and torture of children.
Another witness told of a gynecologist shot dead in front of his children after being detained by Iraqi troops and of small children being forced to donate blood for Iraqi soldiers when taken to a hospital for treatment.
Hospitals were looted of equipment and food, their patients left on the street to die and their nurses, including non-Kuwaitis, raped, other witnesses said.
A third witness, Dr. Essa Ibrahim, said doctors treating Iraqi soldiers were shot if their patients died. One had been shot for refusing to shut off an elderly woman's life-support system and a number had been killed for having treated resistance workers, he said.
Dr. Ibrahim said he personally buried 40 newborn babies who died because they had been removed from incubators.
Similar atrocities have been described to reporters by Kuwaiti refugees, who also have described the systematic destruction of the country's infrastructure.
But yesterday's testimony, some of it secondhand, offered a backdrop for a series of new condemnations of Iraq by Security Council members and others. A Saudi envoy said Iraqi troops' action "puts to shame even shame itself."
The United States has won full support from the Security Council's five permanent members and a sizable majority of other countries for its draft resolution allowing "all necessary means" to force Iraq to end its occupation and free foreign hostages.
The council remained undecided on whether the deadline should be Jan. 1 or Jan. 15, according to Britain's envoy, Sir David Hannay.
The Palestine Liberation Organization diverted attention temporarily from the Persian Gulf crisis by winning consideration today of a measure that would set up a U.N. commissioner, or ombudsman, to monitor the Israeli-occupied territories.
The PLO proposal was raised by Cuba, which frequently has opposed council moves to put pressure on Iraq. The PLO has been one of Iraq's main backers in the gulf crisis.
Because the PLO proposal predated the use-of-force resolution, the council could choose to vote on it first. This would put the United States in an embarrassing spot in its final days of presiding for the month over the Security Council.
A veto could weaken the anti-Iraq alliance by arousing the Arab world; a U.S. vote for the PLO measure would further strain relations with Israel.