Pentagon accuses Iraq of serious gulf war crimes

March 20, 1993|By New York Times News Service

NEW YORK — WASHINGTON -- In a long-awaited report, the Pentagon asserted yesterday that Iraq committed serious war crimes during the Persian Gulf war by abusing all of the prisoners of war it captured, torturing and killing Kuwaitis and damaging the environment by releasing oil into the Persian Gulf and destroying Kuwaiti oil wells.

The report was prepared by the U.S. Army and was based on intelligence and operational reports, and interviews and debriefings of prisoners of war and hostages by teams of military lawyers.

It covers the period from the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 through the U.S.-led military action to oust the Iraqis in early 1991 and the repatriation of American prisoners in March 1991.

Detailing war crimes in occupied Kuwait, the report said the Iraqis established a torture center in Kuwait City. The report asserts that 1,082 Kuwaitis were killed by torture and execution during the Iraqi occupation.

The report was completed in January 1992 but was never released. While the Bush administration took the position that the report was under review, some officials asserted that the administration withheld it so as not to focus attention on the fact that Saddam Hussein was still in power and that there was little

Washington could do to bring the alleged Iraqi war criminals to justice.

The Army report was provided to the United Nations yesterday and was made public in Washington.

In a long section on abuses of U.S. prisoners, the report said that "all of the prisoners of war were the victims of war crimes committed by Iraq." Giving a case-by-case rundown, the report noted that U.S. prisoners were routinely beaten, spat upon and forced into degrading actions, such as urinating on an American flag.

The Iraqi captors also tried to determine if any of the U.S. prisoners were Jewish, asserting that Israelis were piloting U.S. warplanes. Six American prisoners suspected of being Jewish were examined by the Iraqis to see if they had been circumcised, the report said.

The Iraqis also tried to trick some of the prisoners into disclosing that they were Jewish by telling them that they would be executed the next day and asking if they wanted to go to a synagogue.

They were also quizzed on Christian doctrine.

Other U.S. prisoners were assaulted and tortured without regard to their religious convictions as the Iraqis sought to learn military secrets, the report said.

To protect the privacy of the prisoners, the report assigns them numbers and does not disclose their identity. But it chronicles the torture of the prisoners in explicit terms.

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