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3/26/03 - PROTECTING IRAQI NON-COMBATANTS - 2003-03-27


U.S. led-coalition forces are carrying out a difficult and dangerous task in Iraq. To disarm and remove the Saddam Hussein regime, the coalition is defeating Iraqi forces that are systematically violating the laws of war. And the coalition is carrying out its mission with very few civilian casualties. Coalition air forces have used more than two thousand precision-guided bombs and missiles on Iraqi military targets, including command-and-control facilities in Baghdad. Coalition forces have not attacked electrical power plants or other facilities used by the Iraqi military because such attacks would endanger or cause hardship to civilians.

By contrast, Iraq's leaders are deliberately exposing Iraqi civilians to attack. As U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld pointed out:

"What the Iraqi [government] has done is to demonstrate their lack of respect for human life, and they have put military installations near mosques and their hospitals and schools. They have put their communications systems in downtown Baghdad, and co-mingled civil activities with military activities. And they have done it in very close proximity to large numbers of innocent men, women, and children."

Despite the difficulties, coalition forces have liberated much of Iraq and are closing in on Baghdad. Every effort will continue to be made by coalition forces to avoid harm to civilians. As General Franks put it:

"Non-combatants are injured and killed in a war. That's why the members of this coalition go literally to extraordinary lengths in order to be able to be precise in our targeting. We've done that and we'll continue to that."

The U.S.-led coalition will prevail. Iraq's military leaders could help to prevent further bloodshed by refusing to fight for Saddam Hussein.

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