Thu 27 Mar 2003
Saddam executes 60 Iraqi officers
SADDAM Hussein has executed 60 army officers and replaced them with some of his most fanatical supporters to dissuade soldiers from deserting in the
face of allied attack, according to an exiled Iraqi general.
Mohammed Nafee, who was a commander in Saddamís forces in the Iran-Iraq war, claims the purge of the army higher ranks took place at the weekend. He
has contacted Iraqi military sources in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, who passed on news of the mass executions.
Mr Nafee said the commanding officers of army units considered most likely to surrender were ordered to be removed from their posts and killed. The
officers were colonels and captains in Saddamís regular army. Some were replaced with members of the Saddam Fedayeen militia, otherwise known as
Saddamís Commandos, or his "brigade of martyrs".
Fedayeen militiamen have been paraded as suicide fighters through Baghdad in recent weeks, dressed entirely in white, the colour of self-sacrifice in
Led by Saddamís elder son, Uday, they are among the most feared elements of the dictatorís machinery of government.
Mr Nafee, who fled Iraq five years ago and has settled with his family in Edinburgh, said: "The soldiers in the army are very frightened. I am told
that more than 60 army officers were executed to cull deserters.
"The regular army has been told that if they donít fight, they will be shot. More than 1,000 members of Saddam Fedayeen have been attached to army
units to prevent them surrendering. The soldiers canít do anything until they are sure they will be safe because they remember from 1991, when the
uprising against Saddam resulted in the deaths of thousands of Iraqi people. They canít test the situation because it is too dangerous if they get it
Mr Nafee said members of the Fedayeen had no option but to fight because they were too closely associated with the Iraqi dictator.
"These people are given great benefits in terms of money and power. They can do what they like in Iraq and get away with it," Mr Nafee added. "They
know that when Saddam goes, they have no future in Iraq so they must fight to save his regime."