Kurd allies retake north for Saddam

USA TODAY
September 10, 1996, Tuesday, FINAL EDITION
BYLINE: Tom Squitieri
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 1A
LENGTH: 249 words
DATELINE: DOKAN, Iraq

DOKAN, Iraq — Kurdish fighters aligned with Saddam Hussein capturedtheir rivals’ last stronghold on Monday, giving Saddam controlof northern Iraq for the first time since the Persian Gulf war.

Iraqi forces appeared to be advancing across the region behind the front-line fighters but were not playing a major role in the fighting.

While the administration downplayed the day’s events, Saddam’s new influence on northern Iraq complicates efforts to protect U.S. sympathizers trapped in the region.

It also gives critics ammunition against President Clinton, who said U.S. cruise missile attacks left Saddam “strategically worse off.”

Said Republican Bob Dole: The “administration should be careful about making claims of success that events on the ground may not substantiate.”

Clinton said that while the United States would do “everything” to help anybody who needs to be out of Iraq, “our ability to control internal events in Iraq is limited.”

Officials fear Iraqi reprisals, including summary executions, against anyone suspected of sympathizing with opposition Kurds or the United States.

More than 100 executions of CIA-backed dissidents have already occurred, The Washington Post reported today.

White House spokesman Mike McCurry called Dole’s criticism misplaced. The intent of Clinton’s Iraq strategy was to limit Saddam’s ability to threaten his gulf neighbors in the south, not end the fighting
in the north, McCurry said.