Saudi Official: Gulf War Saudi Pilot is in Iraqi Jail, not Dead
A Saudi pilot believed to have died in a 1991 Gulf War plane crash is alive and in an Iraqi prison, the head of the Saudi Arabian team hunting for the man said in an interview published Thursday.
"Saudi pilot Mohammad Nadera is alive and in an Iraqi prison," General Ateya Abdel Hamid told Okaz newspaper.
"There is evidence that pilot Nadera is still alive," he said. "Some prisoners of war have shown photos and video footage confirming his presence in an Iraqi jail, and we have furnished this evidence to the International Committee of the Red Cross" (ICRC).
Iraqi and Saudi delegations, the latter led by the general, were to begin Thursday preparing for a search in southern Iraq for the remains of the pilot, the ICRC said.
The meeting would probably last several days and take place in the Saudi border town of Ar'ar, said Beat Schweizer, ICRC head in Iraq.
An Iraqi official has said the search could start as soon as Saturday.
It was not clear whether that meeting will still take place.
Saudi Arabia and Iraq finally agreed to the operation in June but it has been held up because of extreme summer temperatures in the desert where Squadron Leader Mohammad Nadera's plane was shot down.
The crash site is 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the nearest inhabited area and accessible only by land from the Saudi side of the border because the Iraqi side is heavily mined, according to Iraqi sources.
The launch of the retrieval operation has been delayed pending agreement on the arrangements ever since Baghdad announced in January that the plane wreckage was found in 1997, six years after the war over Kuwait.
An Iraqi officer had buried the pilot, Iraq said – RIYADH (AFP)
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