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Iraq

15 Questions

Sorting it out, looking ahead.

By Times staff

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 10, 2003


1) What is the significance of the statue toppled on Wednesday?

The 25-foot-tall statue in the center of Baghdad was the last statue erected to Saddam Hussein. It dominated Firdos Square where it was inaugurated last year on Hussein's 65th birthday. It was surrounded by 37 ornate white columns -- he was born in 1937 -- each bearing the initials SH in Arabic.

2) Is Saddam Hussein dead?

Maybe.

An eyewitness reported seeing Hussein enter a building and did not see him leave before it was destroyed by an American bomber Monday. But Hussein is known to have several doubles. The United States plans to scour the wreckage -- essentially a hole in the ground -- to search for evidence.

A Kurdish opposition group says Hussein was not in the building but was hiding in Tikrit, his hometown.

3) If he's alive, can he flee from Baghdad?

Unlikely. Coalition forces have captured the airports around the city and control the roads in and out.

Some believe Hussein fled earlier, to Tikrit, 100 miles north, home to some of his most elaborate presidential compounds. There he could vanish into the labyrinth of underground tunnels believed to link those sites to the eastern banks of the Tigris River.

4) Now that the U.S. military has entered Baghdad, is the war over?

No. Coalition forces control much of the country, but much of Baghdad is not under coalition control. Also, the United States still must overcome resistance in Tikrit, Hussein's hometown. Iraqi soldiers there are fiercely loyal and could make the city the regime's last stand.

5) How long has Saddam Hussein been Iraq's president?

More than 20 years. In 1968, he helped organize a coup that installed Gen. Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr as president. In July 1979, Hussein pushed al-Bakr aside to become president himself.

6) What will the United States do with Iraqi prisoners of war?

American led-forces are holding 7,300 Iraqi prisoners, and are putting up tents and building a detention facility in southern Iraq that eventually could hold 24,000 POWs.

After the war, the coalition must decide whether to send prisoners home or turn them over to an interim government in Iraq. There are no current plans to send prisoners to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where several hundred suspects have been held since their capture in Afghanistan.

7) How many Iraqi soldiers have been killed or wounded?

The Pentagon isn't doing estimates. The International Committee of the Red Cross says hospitals in Baghdad are too busy to count the wounded. Military analysts are divided: One says more than 10,000 uniformed Iraqi soldiers will be dead at war's end. Another suggests the death total will be half that.

8) Have U.S. bombs intended for Iraq fallen in neighboring Iran?

In three separate incidents, bombs fired by either the United States or Iraq have struck in Iran, near the Iraqi border. On March 21, U.S.-led coalition planes struck an Iranian Oil Ministry building, injuring two people. The next day, a missile that Iran said was fired by Iraq landed in western Iran. No one was hurt.

This week, Iran said another bomb from coalition planes struck Iran, killing a teen. The United States is investigating.

9) What kind of information are reporters 'embedded' with U.S. military units prohibited from reporting?

Unless they have permission, embedded reporters cannot report a unit's exact position, its specific number of troops or plans for future operations.

Reporters can give approximate troop numbers and locations for their units. They can interview soldiers and officers and send full accounts of battles and other action.

10) Why is the Iraqi Republican Guard referred to as 'elite?'

The Republican Guard gets the best training, equipment, pay and housing the country can offer. It's not much.

Republican Guard recruits receive about $40 a month, compared to $5 for a newly appointed Iraqi civil servant with a college degree. They get plots of land, extra food, and free health care and education for their children.

11) Is the use of body doubles unique to Saddam Hussein?

Historians say George Washington, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt used doubles. Adolf Hitler was suspected of using a double, as was Josef Stalin. The number of Hussein body doubles is unknown. One estimate says there as many as 16 look-alikes.

12) What constitutes a weapon of mass destruction?

The term generally includes nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

Nuclear weapons include atomic, hydrogen and dirty bombs. Biological weapons can spread disease, including anthrax, botulinum toxin, plague, ricin, smallpox, tularemia and viral hemorrhagic fevers. Chemical weapons include the highly toxic chemical sarin. One drop can kill a person.

13) Do British soldiers eat the same MREs as American troops?

British forces have their own ready-made meals, called Operational Ration Packs. The dishes include bacon and beans, and Lancashire hot pot, a mix of mutton, potatoes and vegetables. Because of supply problems in Iraq, the British have sometimes used American rations.

14) The reported injuries to resued POW Jessica Lynch keep changing. Was she shot and stabbed?

She was not stabbed; it's still not clear if she was shot.

Most recently, her doctors said the 19-year-old Army supply clerk was being treated for a head wound, an injury to her spine and fractures to her right arm, both legs, and her right foot and ankle. Gunshots may have caused open fractures on her upper right arm and lower left leg.

15) Why does the American flag patch on military fatigues appear 'backward,' with the blue field on the right?

The flag patch on the right sleeve of uniforms is referred to as the "reversed field" patch. It's intended to look as though the flag is blowing in a wind caused by the person's forward movement. The reversed field flag also appears on the right side of vehicles and planes, including Air Force One.

-- Information from the Associated Press, Detroit Free Press, the Guardian, Knight Ridder and the New York Times was used by staff writer Stephen Hegarty to compile this report. Researcher Kitty Bennett also contributed.

-- If you have any questions about the war in Iraq, please send them to: warquestions@sptimes.com

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