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Iraqi villagers welcome U.S. troops

Villagers: 'Saddam, your days are numbered'

Safwan
A U.S. soldier gives candy to Iraqi boys Friday in Safwan.

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SAFWAN, Iraq (CNN) -- Videotape shot by Kuwaiti TV crews Friday showed about a dozen villagers, most of them adult men, warmly welcoming American soldiers who arrived and briefly took up positions in the village of Safwan.

The men, a few children, and one woman spoke to at least three soldiers who got out of their vehicles. Many shook the soldiers' hands or embraced them, and some kissed the soldiers' cheeks.

"God bless you, thank you very much," said some of the villagers, according to translations by Kuwaiti TV.

"We do not want the oil. Take it. Take it. But build the country. We want to live, we want to travel, we want to walk. It cannot always be the pressure of war, war, destruction, destruction," one villager said. "Enough, enough. We are fed up, fed up. Long live the soldiers."

About a dozen other Iraqis watched from a distance.

The soldiers were seen arriving in at least three armored vehicles and one truck; two helicopters flew by in the distance.

At one point, a soldier tore large pieces from a large poster of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi president.

One villager took off his sandal and repeatedly hit what remained of the painting of Saddam's face.

The one woman spoke emotionally to the soldiers for a few moments, but it was not clear which comments were hers.

The tape showed a group of about eight adult men and children dancing and singing, "Saddam, your days are numbered. Saddam, your days are numbered."

Safwan is an Iraqi military facility located about 28 miles south of Basra, just north of the Kuwait-Iraq border.

On March 3, 1991, allied commanders, U.S. Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf and Saudi Gen. Khaled ibn Sultan, commander of the Joint Arab-Islamic forces, gathered under a tent on Safwan's airstrip and signed a cease-fire agreement with Iraqi generals, putting a formal end to the first Persian Gulf War.

The air strip is large enough to accommodate fighter planes and small cargo aircraft and may be an attractive strategic location for coalition troops.


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