Iran News ...


5/18/03

Iran receives remains of 45 soldiers of Iraqi war

Iran on Sunday received remains of 45 soldiers, killed during the 1980-1988 imposed war under Iraq's former ruler Saddam Hussein, at Shalamcheh border crossing, marking the first such transaction since the US-led war against Iraq started, IRNA reported.

The bodies were delivered by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)'s office in the southern Iraqi city of Basra in exchange for 83 remains of Iraqi soldiers, the head of the search committee for those missing in action, Brigadier Mirfeysal Baqerzadeh said.

He also said that US-led occupation forces had prevented from taking the remains to the holy Shiite cities of Najaf and Karbala in Iraq for pilgrimage.

Baqerzadeh on Tuesday said that the remains were planned to be shipped to Iran before the US-led putsch started but it did not realize because of Iraq's "special situation" at the time.

"These beloved martyrs were held at a military hospital in Zubair south of Basra," he said.

British troops announced last month that they had found the remains of as many as 200 people in makeshift coffins and plastic bags in an abandoned warehouse near Basra along with faded photos of corpses showing signs of torture and execution.

Baqerzadeh said at the time that the remains were those of Iranian soldiers retrieved in joint recovery operations, and that they were to be repatriated to Iran before the war started.

The country later turned down a British proposal to return the bodies to Iran since this would amount to the Islamic Republic's recognition of the US-led invasion which Tehran strongly opposed.

Iran on Saturday also reiterated its appeal to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to help establish the fate of its remaining prisoners of war in Iraq. Tehran has already accused US of intending to "blackmail" the Islamic Republic on the fate of missing Iranians.

The appeal came first last month as news emerged that the bodies of 300 Iranian prisoners of war buried by Saddam Hussein's forces had been found in a mass grave on the edge of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

The Islamic Republic has also said that it considers US-British troops responsible for any threat against Iranian PoWs who may still be in Iraqi prisons.

Tehran says close to 4,000 Iranian prisoners of war in Iraq still remain unaccounted.

... Payvand News - 5/18/03 ... --



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