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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 May, 2003, 10:39 GMT 11:39 UK
US rejects BBC Lynch report
Private Jessica Lynch after her rescue by US Special Forces
The Pentagon is accused of dramatising the operation
The Pentagon has hit back at allegations made in a BBC documentary that the US military stage-managed the rescue in Iraq of American PoW Jessica Lynch.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said any claims that the facts of Private Lynch's rescue were misrepresented by the US military were "void of all facts and absolutely ridiculous".

An investigation by the BBC's Correspondent programme said the story of the rescue was "one of the most stunning pieces of news management ever conceived".

The 19-year-old army clerk from Palestine, West Virginia, was captured when her company took a wrong turning just outside Nasiriya and was ambushed.

Nine of her comrades were killed and Private Lynch was taken to the local hospital. Eight days later US special forces stormed the hospital, capturing the "dramatic" events on a night vision camera.

The Pentagon never released an account of what happened to Lynch because it didn't have an account
Bryan Whitman
Pentagon spokesman

The rescue was extensively reported around the world, with the pictures of the rescue turning Private Lynch into a cult hero in the United States.

But Correspondent said the US military knew there were no Iraqi forces guarding the hospital, and quoted a local doctor saying that the troops used blank rounds to "make a show" of the operation.

It also questioned reports that Private Lynch had stab and bullet wounds, and that she had been slapped about on her hospital bed and interrogated.

'Speculative reports'

The programme said Iraqi doctors in Nasiriya claimed to have provided the best treatment they could for the soldier in the midst of war.

But the Pentagon said no blanks were used, and that all the procedures used were consistent with normal operations when there is a threat of encountering hostile forces.

"We don't want to take unnecessary risk. We do make sure that when we exercise military force we use the right resources, sufficient to get the job done. It is a decision made by the commander on the ground," Mr Whitman told CNN.

He also said that the US military never claimed that the troops came under fire when they burst into the hospital, but that troops supporting the mission exchanged fire nearby.

Speculative reports in the media were responsible for some of the misinformation, not Pentagon statements, he added.

"The Pentagon never released an account of what happened to Lynch because it didn't have an account. She never told us," Mr Whitman added.

Doctors now say Jessica Lynch has no recollection of the whole episode and probably never will.

US rejects BBC Lynch report
20 May 03  |  Americas

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