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17 Iraqis surrender to U.S. troops

Leaflets advise how to avoid destruction

One of the millions of leaflets U.S. military planes have dropped on Iraqi troops.
One of the millions of leaflets U.S. military planes have dropped on Iraqi troops.

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DOHA, Qatar (CNN) -- As the first Iraqi soldiers lined up to surrender, coalition aircraft Wednesday dropped more than 2 million leaflets over suspected Iraqi troop positions, delivering for the first time a "capitulation" message and telling Iraqi soldiers how to avoid being harmed in the expected U.S.-led invasion.

A statement from the U.S. Central Command said the capitulation theme did "not necessarily indicate a coalition military offensive against Iraq is imminent," but said it would help prepare for any eventual military operations ordered by President Bush.

It was also an attempt by coalition forces to minimize Iraqi casualties.

Seventeen Iraqi soldiers may have taken the U.S. leaflet campaign to heart as they surrendered Wednesday to U.S. troops.

The men were believed to be the first of their countrymen to give up -- a move the U.S. Air Force has been actively encouraging for months by showering the Iraqi landscape with leaflets.

U.S. Central Command in Doha confirmed 17 people were in custody but did not give details of the circumstances of their surrender.

Officials also said they have growing evidence from radio communications that some regular Iraqi army units already plan not to fight the U.S. troops.

Kuwait expects 'mass defections'

Two New York Times correspondents embedded with the 3rd Infantry Division said 15 Iraqi border guards crossed over the border into Kuwait and surrendered Wednesday as some 20,000 American troops moved into the area.

They were immediately were turned over to Kuwaiti police, said U.S. military officials in Doha.

Two other Iraqi soliders gave themselves up west of Abdali, Iraq, and were being held by Kuwaiti police with the others at a debriefing center at an undisclosed location, the officials said.

In New York, Iraq's U.N. ambassador, Mohammed Aldouri, initially denied reports some Iraqi troops had surrendered, but later said he had no way of knowing whether the reports were true.

Kuwait's foreign affairs minister, Mohammed Sabah, said Wednesday's defections were "to be expected."

"We are almost certain there's going to be a mass defection from the Iraqi army," Sabah told CNN.

Capitulation actions

The latest Central Command statement said the front page of the leaflets instructed Iraqi soldiers they must follow coalition guidelines to avoid "destruction."

The back of the leaflet featured eight actions necessary to capitulate:

• Park vehicles in squares, no larger than battalion size.

• Stow artillery and air defense systems in travel configuration.

• Display white flags on vehicles.

• Do not carry portable missile launchers.

• Gather in groups, a minimum of one kilometer away from vehicles. The leaflets carried an illustration emphasizing this point.

• Lay down arms, except for officers, who may retain their sidearms.

• Do not approach coalition forces.

• Wait for further instructions.

17 million leaflets this year

Other leaflets dropped Wednesday included warnings to Iraqi troops not to use weapons of mass destruction.

Some carried the message that coalition forces had no desire to hurt innocent Iraqis and that Iraqi citizens could be the victims if Saddam Hussein uses chemical weapons.

"Any unit that chooses to use weapons of mass destruction will face swift and severe retribution by coalition forces," the leaflets warned.

The message is similar to surrender messages being broadcast into Iraq by U.S. military aircraft and ships.

The signals, which can be monitored by ordinary radios, are coming from the U.S. "Commando Solo" aircraft and from transmitters onboard Marine Corps amphibious ships.

Nearly 2 million leaflets fluttered to the ground Wednesday over southeastern Iraq, the largest drop of coalition propaganda to date, according to a statement from the U.S. Combined Forces Air Component Command.

Coalition planes dumped 1.4 million leaflets Tuesday and have spread more than 17 million over the Iraqi landscape this year.

Wednesday's drops took place throughout the day, the command said, and targeted 29 military and civilian locations.


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