Skip to comments.Evidence Syria helping Saddam backers flee - US
Posted on 04/09/2003 3:42:44 PM PDT by kattracks
Evidence Syria helping Saddam backers flee - US
By Charles Aldinger
WASHINGTON, April 9 (Reuters) - The United States said on Wednesday it had evidence that Iraq's western neighbor Syria might be helping family members and supporters of missing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein flee the country.
"We are getting scraps of intelligence saying that Syria has been cooperative in facilitating the move of the people out of Iraq and into Syria," U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a Pentagon news conference as triumphant American military forces were greeted by jubilant Iraqis in Baghdad.
"Then, in some cases they stay there and find safekeeping there. In other cases, they move from Syria to some other places," Rumsfeld said when asked by reporters where supporters of Saddam had gone from Baghdad and elsewhere.
He later told reporters after a congressional appearance that those fleeing into Syria included Saddam's supporters and "some family members."
Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, said scraps of intelligence showed "they're trying to move some of their family members out."
Rumsfeld later cautioned that he was not talking about "very senior, senior people" fleeing to Syria.
"We mentioned senior people that had transited Iraq into Syria and in some cases then into other countries. I did not mean to leave the impression that these were some senior people that you'd ever heard of. These were regime-type people who ... intelligence scraps suggest have been transiting in that direction," Rumsfeld said.
The secretary also repeated earlier U.S. charges that Syria had facilitated the movement of military equipment and people into Iraq to help fight U.S.-led forces that launched an invasion to overthrow Saddam nearly three weeks ago.
Syria, which has called for the defeat of U.S. and British forces by Iraq, earlier dismissed the charges that it allowed night vision equipment and other military aid into Iraq.
Rumsfeld said he did not know the whereabouts of Saddam, who with his two sons have been targeted by U.S. bombing raids including one earlier this week.
'IN SOME TUNNEL SOMEPLACE'
"He's not active. Therefore, he's either dead or he's incapacitated, or he's healthy and cowering in some tunnel someplace trying to avoid being caught," the secretary told reporters.
But Rumsfeld said the end of Saddam's rule was at hand, calling the scenes of jubilation, of celebrating Iraqis riding on American tanks, in Baghdad "breathtaking."
"Saddam Hussein is now taking his rightful place alongside Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Ceausescu in the pantheon of failed brutal dictators, and the Iraqi people are well on their way to freedom," he said.
The secretary said the U.S. government was offering rewards to Iraqis to come forward with information on chemical and biological weapons and on alleged atrocities committed by Saddam's government.
"Rewards are available to those who help us prevent the disappearance of personnel, documentation and materials. Good lives and a better future are possible for those who turn themselves in and choose to cooperate with coalition forces," he said.
Washington says Baghdad has been stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, a charge denied by Saddam's government.
Rumsfeld did not provide details of the rewards except to suggest that those who provided information would receive amnesty for any previous cooperation with Saddam.
Rumsfeld and Myers hailed the progress of U.S.-led forces. But they warned that fighting in Iraq, including the northern part of the country, was not over.
"The scenes of free Iraqis celebrating in the streets, riding American tanks, tearing down the statues of Saddam Hussein in the center of Baghdad are breathtaking," said Rumsfeld. "Watching them, one cannot help but think of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Iron Curtain.
(With additional reporting by Deborah Charles)
04/09/03 18:38 ET
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Actually, we want this to happen.
Remember that it is always best to give a cornered rat an out to his obscurity. Saddam is probably dead, along with his sons. So we need not lean on Damascus directly. However, should the Boy President decide to give shelter to his wayward Ba'athist cousins, it should not bother us. They will dwell in an obscure exile as their liberated countrymen, out from under the boot at long last, advance with a measure of freedom towards what Mr. Churchill called, "the broad, sunlit uplands".
Be Seeing You,
Watching them, I cannot help but think how sad that the Tiennaman Square guy stopping tanks didn't get his wish.
Breaking!! Collins and Snowe renounce their moderate ways paving the way for spending reductions.
Israel should take care of itself. We should approve of that.
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