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Words in the News
Monday 19 May 2003
Private Jessica Lynch
Jessica Lynch The rescue of Private Jessica Lynch by American special forces from a hospital in Nasariyah was one of the iconic moments of the war against Iraq. The Americans played it for all it was worth. But the doctors who treated her have told the BBC that the rescue was not all it seemed. Our report is by John Kampfner.
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In the early hours of April the 2nd reporters were summoned to Central Command in Doha for an urgent announcement. They assumed coalition forces had captured or killed Saddam Hussein. Instead they were given the story of the dramatic rescue by US special forces of Private Jessica Lynch whose company had been ambushed by the Iraqis more than a week earlier.

The official version, caught on camera by a Pentagon crew, was that a rescue squad stormed the building and took her away under fire. Private Lynch was said to have received bullet and stab wounds. Once in hospital, she was said to have been beaten and stabbed.

But doctors at the hospital in Nasariyah tell a different tale. They insist that while Saddam's Fedayeen Militia had been at the hospital, they had long since left, and that the Americans knew it. They said that far from mistreating Lynch, they gave her the best treatment they could at a time of war. They made it clear that by the time the Americans descended on the hospital by helicopter they were aware that they would face no resistance.

We asked the Pentagon to release the full videotape of the rescue rather than its five-minute edited version to clear up any discrepancies. It declined. The truth may never be known. Doctors now say Jessica Lynch has no memory of the whole episode and probably never will. Still the story has gone into American folklore. This was a script fit for Hollywood – made by the Pentagon.
Listen Listen to the words
military, army
taken prisoner
attacked by surprise
a rescue squad
a group of people who get someone out of a dangerous situation
under fire
being attacked by guns or firearms
descended on
moved downwards
to clear up
to explain or settle a situation or problem
traditional stories and customs
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