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U.S.: Iraq not letting Red Cross visit POWs


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SPECIAL REPORT
•  Commanders: U.S. | Iraq
•  Weapons: 3D Models

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Iraq still has not let the International Committee of the Red Cross visit U.S. prisoners of war, Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday.

"We would hope that the Iraqi regime would do the honorable and the right thing and allow the International Committee of the Red Cross in to visit these prisoners of war," Myers said on CNN's "Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer."

"That's their obligation. They said they were going to do it, and we just hope they follow through."

The United States has agreed to let the Red Cross visit more than 4,000 Iraqi POWs, Myers said. He said the Red Cross wanted to wait until conditions are more secure. He said he did not know whether the visits had taken place yet.

"I think they have probably been inside," he said.

Myers said it is unclear how many Americans are POWs in Iraq. At least five soldiers were captured after an ambush near Nasiriya. More troops are reported as missing in action, he said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross in Baghdad has been trying to negotiate a visit to check on the condition and treatment of POWs, the organization's Roland Huguenin-Benjamin told CNN.

He said his organization does not comment on POW visits until one has occurred. He said some technicalities need to be worked out, including taking the POWs to a safe place under the supervision of Iraqi officers.

"We are very hopeful that this will not be delayed," he said.

Before the war started, Iraq said the Red Cross would be allowed to visit any POWs, he said. He said the Red Cross has a long history of visiting POWs in Iraq.

In what is believed to be the first independent, on-the-scene report of Iraqi civilian casualties, Huguenin-Benjamin said an average of about 100 civilians are injured daily in Baghdad.

Iraqi officials said more than 4,000 civilians have been killed or wounded in Iraq since the coalition operation began 11 days ago.

Some injuries are superficial, but many have required surgery, Huguenin-Benjamin said.

He said he also is concerned about civilians in the cities between Basra and Baghdad, home to the most intense fighting in the war.

The International Committee of the Red Cross does not yet have staff in those cities, he said.


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