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[] AFP 23.03.03: Commander of Iraqi division reported surrendered vows to fight on,

Commander of Iraqi division reported surrendered vows to fight on
DOHA (AFP) Mar 23, 2003

An Iraqi commander near the southern city of Basra said Sunday that his 
division, which
Washington earlier said had surrendered, would continue to resist US and 
British forces.

"I am with my men in Basra, we continue to defend the people and riches" of 
the town, Colonel
Khaled al-Hashemi, commander of the 51st Mechanized Division, told the 
satellite television
channel Al-Jazeera.

"We have made sacrifices within the division to defend our sacred places 
and our honour," he
said without giving any other details.

The Pentagon announced Friday his troops had surrendered to coalition 
forces, the first division-sized unit to do so since the start of a US-led 
ground offensive. Baghdad immediately denied the claim.

Hashemi accused Washington of lying, saying it was part of the 
"psychological warfare" being put out by "enemy forces".

Iraqi Information Minister Mohammad Said al-Sahhaf said 77 civilians were 
killed and 366 others injured by US air strikes Saturday on Basra, Iraq's 
second city.

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