Monday 18 August 2003

Iraqi Commander Swears He Saw USAF Fly Saddam Out of Baghdad

Film will soon be made public of an Iraqi Army officer describing how he saw a US Air Force transport fly Saddam Hussein out of Baghdad. The explosive eyewitness testimony was shot by independent filmmaker Patrick Dillon, who recently returned from a risky one-man odyssey in Iraq. In the film, the officer, who told Dillon that he commanded a special combat unit during the battle for Baghdad airport and whose identity is temporarily being withheld, explains in detail how he watched as the Iraqi dictator and members of his inner circle were evacuated from Iraq's capital by what he emphatically insists were United States Air Force cargo planes.

Presently, the only copies of the film (which I have not yet seen) are in New York City. People who have viewed it describe it to me as compelling.

Dillon told me by phone that, prior to the final assault on the capital by American ground forces, the officer had been entrusted with the near impossible job of ensuring that one of Baghdad airport's runways would remain operational no matter what. In civilian life the officer is reportedly a highly trained civil engineer specializing in airport operations. He states he was selected to command this hazardous mission in part because of his expertise in concrete surface construction. He goes on to report that there was a ferocious battle at the airport, with losses on both sides far worse than the mainstream news services acknowledge. He deviates even further from officially sanctioned accounts, by unequivocally stating that the battle for control of the airport actually lasted several days longer than commonly believed, dragging on through April 8th and culminating around dawn on the morning of the 9th. Most news sources cite April 4th as the day when the airport fell. But many conventional accounts also acknowledge, if only in passing, uncertainty as to exactly when the airport was fully subdued,frequently offering the 5th and the 6th as other possibilities. Virtually everyone agrees on April 9th as the day that the battle for the entire city officially ended.

In any event, the officer adamantly maintains that his combat/construction brigade, despite heavy casualties, managed to hold off US troops and preserve a useable length of runway right through the night of April the 8th.

Then early on the morning of April 9th, as the remnants of his unit were close to being overrun, a general cease-fire was unexpectedly declared for 6 AM. Shortly after it went into effect, and in broad daylight, the officer claims a motorcade of 10 Mercedes stretch limos suddenly barreled onto the airfield, carrying Saddam and his entourage. Almost simultaneously, a flight of what the officer asserts were four USAF Hercules transports swooped down and landed on the lone stretch of intact runway. All four C-130s dropped their rear loading ramps and the limos drove up into the cargo bays of the waiting planes, which then took off. The officer insists he has no idea where Saddam or any of the other members of his party may have gone.

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