Graphic Footage Hits the Airwaves

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In a sure sign that media coverage of this war has changed dramatically, the Arabic television broadcaster Al Jazeera aired footage of what appears to be slain American forces as well as American soldiers captured by the Iraqis. The video was provided by Iraq TV.

This morning in Baghdad, Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan told reporters that Iraq had pictures of the battle in Nasiriyeh that he would produce later in the day. By evening (Mideast time), Al Jazeera had begun broadcasting the pictures from Iraq TV. It was not said when the pictures were taken, but it appeared to have been Friday. Before the airing, Al Jazeera warned viewers that the pictures were disturbing.

Some of the footage seemed to show a road where an American military vehicle was covered with blood. U.S. soldiers were lying dead around it. Another scene appeared to be the floor of a makeshift morgue, showing a number of soldiers sprawled in a bloody tableau.

After that, Jazeera's coverage moves on to Iraq TV interviews with five Americans whom the Iraqis claimed had been captured in the battle. The interviewer spoke in Arabic and someone translated into poor English. The first said he was from Kansas and looked visible shaken. The second was sitting down; he appeared to be uninjured. He simply said he was from Texas and gave his serial number. The Iraq TV interviewer asked him why he had come to Iraq; he replied that he was following orders. Then he was asked whether he had been welcomed with flowers or with guns. After some hesitation he replied, "with guns."

The third American was wearing a tan t-shirt and tan fatigue-style trousers. He had a white patch on his left arm where blood may have been taken and a bandage above his left elbow. There were dark stains that might have been blood on his t-shirt on the right side of his torso. His arms and hands were also stained— possibly with blood. There was also a line of congealed blood running across his eyebrows and down the right slope of his nose. He was lying on a sofa-sized red cushion as a man off camera reached to take his pulse. The soldier appears to be in some agony; the grimace gives away his pain, and he's not saying a word.

At this point, the Iraq TV interviewer, who seems to be in green military uniform (but whose face is off camera), begins asking the soldier questions. As he puts the Iraq TV mike to the soldier's mouth, the interviewer applies his thumb and forefinger to the soldier's head to steady it for the camera. Then to make his face more visible, the interviewer uses his hands to lift the soldier's head up, and eventually the soldier sits up on his own steam. He appears relatively calm and the questioning goes like this:

Q: What is your name?

A: Edgar

Q: From what country

A: My name is Edgar from the United States. My name is Edgar from the United States.

Q: Any city in the United States

A: Texas

Q: Texas city?

A: Yes

Q: You come from any country (i.e. to invade Iraq)?

A: Kuwait

And then there is a fourth soldier, sitting in a chair; he's extremely nervous, as if he fears he'll be shot at any second. His head is darting around as he looks at the people around the room. His voice is almost breaking when he speaks, but he does not look injured. His questioning goes like this:

Q: What's your name

A: Sgt. James Riley

Q: What's your name

A: Sgt. James Riley

Q: From any country? The U.S.?

A: Yes, United States

Q: City?

A: New Jersey

Q: Age

A: 31

Q: From any unit, from any unit in the army?

A: 507th maintenance company

The camera then pans to a table that appears to be laden with an assortment of possessions belonging to the POWs: credit cards, keys, magazine for a rifle, wallet, papers, helmet, and pens.

The fifth American is an African American woman with braided hair sitting in a chair. She appears to be frightened; her lips are pursed as her eyes dart around. The camera scopes down to her feet showing that she is without shoes or socks, and she has a bandage on left ankle.

Q: What's your name?

A: Shawna

Q: Where are you come from?

A: Texas

Q: How old are you?

A: 30

Q: From any unit, American army?

A: 507 Maintenance

TIME could not confirm the identities of the soldiers in question.