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Iraqi 'hero' led Marines to injured POW

Man drew maps of hospital where Lynch was being held

Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch was rescued Tuesday from Saddam Hussein Hospital near Nasiriya, Iraq.

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Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch, rescued from an Iraqi hospital, is recovering after back surgery. CNN's Jeff Flock reports.
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(CNN) -- An Iraqi man who helped U.S. Marines plan the rescue of Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch has been granted refugee status and has been described by the Marines as a "hero."

The man, identified only as Mohammad, is in a secure location along with his family, according to the Marine Corps Web site.

Lynch and seven other members of her unit, the 507th Maintenance Company, were listed as missing after they made a wrong turn near Nasiriya on March 23 and drove into an ambush. Five other members of the unit were shown on Iraqi TV and are listed as prisoners of war; two were killed in action. At least four were wounded.

Lynch is recovering at Landstuhl Air Base in Germany.

An article written by Sgt. Joseph R. Chenelly and posted on the Marines' Web site describes how Mohammad, a lawyer from Nasiriya, helped U.S. forces carry out the raid that freed the 19-year-old supply clerk Wednesday.

While visiting his wife, a nurse at Saddam Hussein Hospital, Mohammad noticed an increase in security and asked one of the doctors what was going on.

"He told me there was a woman American soldier there," Mohammad said.

After the doctor showed Mohammad where Lynch was being held, Mohammad said he saw an Iraqi colonel slap Lynch twice.

"My heart stopped," he said. "I knew then I must help her be saved. I decided I must go to tell the Americans."

That day, Mohammad walked 10 kilometers [about six miles] to a Marine checkpoint. He approached with his hands in the air and told them he had "important information about Jessica."

The Marines asked him to return to the hospital to gather information about the building and about Lynch's location inside.

"I went to see the security," he said. "I watched where they stood, where they sat, where they ate and when they slept."

As Mohammad observed Lynch's captors, Iraqi paramilitary forces stormed his home in Nasiriya and seized many of his belongings, including his car. His wife and 6-year-old daughter fled to a neighbor's home.

"I am not worried for myself," he said. "Security in Iraq loyal to Saddam will kill my wife. They will kill my [child]."

Describing the scene at the hospital, Mohammad said Lynch was covered up to her chin by a white blanket, with her head bandaged and a serious wound on her right leg.

He said the doctors had planned to amputate her leg, but Mohammad and a friend, who had helped him get past the heavy security surrounding Lynch, created diversions to delay the surgery.

"She would have died if they tried it," Mohammad said.

For two days, he walked through battles in the streets of Nasiriya to get to the hospital. In addition to watching the guards' movements, each morning he attempted to keep Lynch's spirits strong with a "good morning" in English.

Mohammad said Lynch acted bravely throughout the ordeal.

When reporting back to the Marines on March 30, Mohammad brought five maps he and his wife had made. He was able to point to the room where Lynch was being held. He also handed over the security layout, reaction plan and times that shift changes occurred.

He had counted 41 Iraqi forces, and determined that a helicopter could land on the hospital's roof.

That information helped U.S. forces plan and carry out a successful nighttime raid April 1.

Mohammad praised the Marines and the U.S.-led war to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, and said that he and his family hope to meet Lynch in the future.

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