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Iraq: U.S. Says Final Gulf War Chapter Still To Be Written

Iraq invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990. Less than a year later, an international coalition led by the United States drove Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait. But even after a decade, U.S. officials say the final chapter in the Gulf War remains to be written. RFE/RL Washington correspondent K.P. Foley filed this report.

Washington, 3 August 2000 (RFE/RL) -- The State Department says the book will not be closed on the Gulf War until Saddam Hussein is ousted in Baghdad and until the Iraqi leader is brought to justice for war crimes allegedly committed during the invasion and occupation of Kuwait.

U.S. State Department Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues David Scheffer told reporters Wednesday that terms such as war crimes do not adequately describe what Saddam's forces did. Scheffer said:

"Permit me to remind everyone of what happened in Kuwait 10 years ago. Terms such as 'brutal,' 'aggression,' and 'war crimes' barely begin to describe the reality of what Saddam Hussein's forces did during six and a half months of occupation of Kuwait. We need to remember that reality to understand why the international community, and not just the United States, should hold accountable those who gave the orders for these crimes to be committed."

Scheffer said Iraqi forces killed approximately 1,000 civilians. He said investigators documented at least two dozen torture sites in Kuwait City, and he said there is evidence that men and women were subjected to terrible tortures.

In addition, said Scheffer, when Saddam's forces fled Kuwait in February, 1991, he ordered them to destroy or release into the Gulf around nine million barrels of oil. Scheffer said there is also clear evidence that Iraqi forces engaged in systematic looting, which is a war crime.

Scheffer added that besides crimes against Kuwaitis, Iraqi forces took thousands of hostages and used many of them as human shields, a violation of the Geneva Conventions. He said a number of third-country nationals were murdered or sexually assaulted by Iraqi soldiers, and that more than 600 Kuwaitis remain unaccounted-for to this day.

Scheffer said Kuwaiti and U.S. investigators have amassed sufficient proofs of Saddam's guilt.

"We believe the evidence justifies an international tribunal, like what exists now for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. In addition, where other countries have laws that permit prosecution under international treaties like the Torture Convention, we encourage them to apply those laws."

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs David Welch said the tide of history is turning against Saddam, and he said the U.S. will continue to support opposition groups inside and outside Iraq:

"The tide of history is flowing against Saddam Hussein and others like him. The United States is convinced that a change of regime in Baghdad is the best solution in the long run, and we will continue to work with those Iraqis who seek to foster more responsible government in their country."

Welch said the story that began in Kuwait 10 years ago is not over. However, he said the U.S. and it's allies are patient and steadfast in the view that the response of the international community will ultimately lead to a secure and prosperous future for all the peoples of the region.