A U.S. military spokesman said today many captured Iraqi soldiers were covered with lice when taken prisoner and that some said they had been receiving only one meal a day in Iraq.
Marine Maj. Gen. Robert B. Johnston said the conditions reported by the Iraqi POWs showed that the allied forces flying nonstop bombing missions over Iraq and Kuwait have been successful in cutting off some Iraqi supplies.
Johnston said allied forces are holding about 60 Iraqi POWs, about half of them deserters.
Concerning their morale and physical condition, he said: “Large numbers, if not all, were covered with lice and had open sores, and quite a few said they were down to slim rations, some saying they were receiving only one meal a day.”
In Turkey, a military commander who spoke on condition of anonymity said today that 20 Iraqi troops had fled across Turkey’s border with Iraq since the start of the war, including two members of the elite Republican Guard.
Some of the Iraqi soldiers reported morale was low among Iraqi troops and food was scarce.
“My stomach was never full,” said Raad Emced Bacet, an Iraqi soldier who is an ethnic Turk.