An angry US President George Bush
last night warned Iraq that using American prisoners of war for
propaganda will be regarded as a war crime.
Mr Bush was speaking after captured
American soldiers were paraded in front of TV cameras as the Baghdad
regime tried to rally its population.
The pictures were also condemned in
London as a gross violation of the Geneva Convention, that protects
the rights of prisoners of war.
Mr Bush said: "We don't know all the
details yet. We do know that we expect them to be treated humanely
just like we are treating Iraqi prisoners.
"If not, anyone who does not treat our
prisoners humanely will be treated as war criminals."
The display - which recalled the
parading of a captured RAF Tornado crew, pilot John Peters and North
Shields navigator John Nichol in the 1991 Gulf War - came as US
forces were reported to have advanced to within 100 miles of Baghdad
but there were also signs that Iraqi resistance was growing.
The graphic television pictures,
screened in Arab countries but not in Britain or the US, showed the
bodies of at least six American soldiers said to have been killed in
fighting at Nasiriyah in southern Iraq.
Two had bullet wounds to the head.
The footage of the captured US
soldiers - four men and a woman - being questioned was said to have
been shot by Iraqi television at Nasiriyah. The prisoners said only
that they were from "507 Maintenance".
The pictures - screened by Al Jazeera
- showed one US soldier lying immobile on a sofa, his face covered
in blood and with wounds to his side and arm.
Another, clearly terrified prisoner
told the reporter: "I come to shoot only if I am shot at."
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
said: "It's illegal to do things to POWs that are humiliating to
In London, Prime Minister Tony Blair
also condemned the parading of the prisoners.
"Sometimes when people ask me `is it
really necessary to get rid of Saddam?' I say look at the things he
"Parading people in that way is
contrary to the Geneva Convention, contrary to all the proper rules
The development came during a day
which saw further allied losses with a RAF Tornado shot down by the
Americans. The two crew were officially declared dead last
There were also further signs that
coalition forces were meeting stiffer resistance.
At the port of Umm Qasr, US Marines
finally mopped up Iraqi resistance after calling in air strikes.
Reports also indicated British troops
with the Black Watch battle group at Basra came under fire from
people in civilian clothing using rifles, machine guns and even
rocket propelled grenades.
Last night Baghdad was again the
target of air strikes as Mr Bush acknowledged the coalition forces
were facing "pockets of resistance" but said that they were making
"This is just the beginning of a tough
"We're slowly but surely achieving our
objective. We're just in the beginning phases. We're executing a
plan," he said.
Around 20 US troops were killed in
action yesterday in the toughest day of the war so far, military
chiefs said. Twelve were killed in an ambush outside the southern
town of Nasiriyah and up to 10 more were killed in fighting in the
Lt General John Abizaid told a Press
conference at US Central Command in Qatar: "We are definitely
missing 12 soldiers unaccounted for, some of whom I believe ended up
on Baghdad television.
"A number were killed in action in
Nasiriyah with the Marines - I believe that number will remain less
than 10 plus a number wounded."
General Abizaid described television
footage of US dead and prisoners of war aired by Al Jazeera network