For Immediate Release
March 22, 2003
The voices of freedom, heard now inside Iraq and around the world.
News accounts today paint a vivid picture of joy and relief inside
Iraq. American and coalition troops are being welcomed by smiling
Iraqis. Their voices have been silenced for too long, but now they are
heard inside Iraq and around the world.
VOICES OF FREEDOM
Coming into Basra as part of a massive military convoy, I encountered a stream of young men, dressed in what appeared to be Iraqi army uniforms, applauding the US marines as they swept past in tanks.
BBC reporter, 3-22-03
"Ajami Saadoun Khlis, whose son and brother were executed under the Saddam regime, sobbed like a child on the shoulder of the Guardian's Egyptian translator. He mopped the tears but they kept coming. 'You just arrived,' he said. 'You're late. What took you so long? God help you become victorious. I want to say hello to Bush, to shake his hand. We came out of the grave.'"
As hundreds of coalition troops swept in just after dawn, the heartache of a town that felt the hardest edges of Saddam Hussein's rule seemed to burst forth, with villagers running into the streets to celebrate in a kind of grim ecstasy, laughing and weeping in long guttural cries.
The Guadian, 3-22-03
Oooooo, peace be upon you, peace be upon you, peace you, oooooo, Zahra Khafi, a 68-year-old mother of five, cried to a group of American and British visitors who came to the town shortly after Mr. Hussein's army appeared to melt away. I'm not afraid of Saddam anymore.
New York Times, 3-22-03
"We've been driving since dawn today in southern Iraq, and so far we've come across scores of Bedouin herdsmen. We've been greeted by friendly greetings of inshallah and salaam aleikum
we've seen both women and men waving greetings and shouting greeting to the U.S. troops.
Radio Free Europe correspondent Ron Synovitz, 3-21-03
"They told me that Saddam Hussein is not allowing anyone to leave Baghdad. I don't fear the Americans. I was in Baghdad in the war in 1991 and I saw how surgical an operation it was. Saddam Hussein has persecuted everyone except his own family. Kurds, Arab Shiites, Turkoman - everybody has suffered. But our country was a rich country and we can be rich again.'
Financial Times Information, 3-21-03
"These are US Marines being greeted if not with garlands, with hand shakes by residents of the town in the deep-south corner of Iraq.
CBS News, 3-21-03
"One little boy, who had chocolate melted all over his face after a
soldier gave him some treats from his ration kit, kept pointing at the
sky, saying 'Ameriki, Ameriki.'"
Associated Press, 3-21-03
"Milling crowds of men and boys watched as the Marines attached ropes
on the front of their Jeeps to one portrait and then backed up, peeling
the Iraqi leader's black-and-white metal image off a frame. Some locals
briefly joined Maj. David 'Bull' Gurfein in a new cheer. 'Iraqis!
Iraqis! Iraqis!' Gurfein yelled, pumping his fist in the air...
"....A few men and boys ventured out, putting makeshift white flags on
their pickup trucks or waving white T-shirts out truck windows....'Americans very good,' Ali Khemy said.
'Iraq wants to be free. Some chanted, 'Ameriki! Ameriki!'
"Gurfein playfully traded pats with a disabled man and turned down a
dinner invitation from townspeople. 'Friend, friend,' he told them in
Arabic learned in the first Gulf War.
"'No Saddam Hussein!' one young man in headscarf told Gurfein. 'Bush!'"
Associated Press, 3-21-03
"Iraqi citizens were shown 'tearing down a poster of Saddam Hussein'
and Dexter Filkins of The New York Times was interviewed, saying that
Iraqis he had seen were 'hugging and kissing every American they could
NBC Nightly News, 3-21-03
"Here was a chance to stop and I clambered down, eager to get a first
word from an Iraqi of what he thought of this whole affair. 'As salaam
alekum,' I said in the traditional greeting, then ran out of Arabic and
quickly added, 'Do you speak English?' No go. But with a fumbled
exchange of gestures we slowly managed to communicate. Thumbs up for
the American tanks, thumbs down for Saddam Hussein. Then he pointed
north into the distance and said 'Baghdad.'"
"A line of dancing Kurdish men, staring directly into the mouth of the
Iraqi guns less than a mile away, defiantly burned tires, sang
traditional new years songs and chanted, 'Topple Saddam.'
"March 21 is the Kurdish New Year....And bonfires have long been a
symbol of liberation in this part of the world. 'We're celebrating
[Nawroz] a national holiday,' said Samad Abdulla Rahim, 22. 'But today
we also celebrate the attack on Saddam.'
"Many expressed hope that deadly fire would light the night sky over
Baghdad in the days ahead, bringing an end to the Kurd's epic 30-year
struggle against Hussein and his Baath Party. 'I can't wait for the
U.S. planes to come and liberate Kirkuk,' said Shahab Ahmed Sherif, a
33-year-old Kurd who had fled the oil-rich city four days earlier."
Copley News Service, 3-21-03
Unidentified Iraqi man: "Help us live better than this life. Let us
ABC World News Tonight, 3-21-03