The teenage American prisoner of war Jessica Lynch was rescued after a tip-off from an Iraqi man who visited the hospital in Iraq where she was being held, US media has reported.
Lynch was held captive for 10 days
The man, a 32-year-old lawyer identified as Mohammed, walked 10 kilometres (six miles) to find US marines to tell them where she was, the Washington Post newspaper said.
Nineteen-year-old Private Lynch was freed after US commandos stormed the Saddam Hospital in Nasiriya on Wednesday.
The newspaper quoted US marines as saying they might never have been able to rescue Private Lynch without Mohammed's help.
Private Lynch, from West Virginia, is being treated for multiple injuries in a military hospital in Germany.
A spokesman on Friday morning discounted earlier reports that she had suffered gunshot or stabbing wounds.
According to the newspaper, Mohammed was told by a doctor friend at the Saddam Hospital that an American soldier was being held there.
A person is a human being regardless of nationality
He saw her lying in a bed being slapped by an Iraqi man, it said.
When the man left the room, Mohammed told Private Lynch, "Don't worry, don't worry," and went to find marines.
"My heart is cut," the Post quoted him as saying when he saw Private Lynch being beaten. "I decided to go to the Americans and tell them about this story."
He said he overheard Iraqis talking about amputating Private Lynch's injured leg but managed to persuade his doctor friend to stop it, the Post said.
Mohammed eventually found marines outside Nasiriya and told them, "I have important information about woman soldier in hospital," the newspaper said.
He later learned Iraqi Fedayeen militia ransacked his house that night, the report said.
Over the next two days US military planners sent Mohammed back to the hospital to gather information, the newspaper said.
Commandos rescued Lynch in a night-time raid
Mohammed told them how many guards there were in the hospital and, together with his wife who worked as a nurse at the hospital, supplied them with six hand-drawn maps of the building.
A plan was hatched and five days after Mohammed had first approached the troops, heavily armed commandos rushed the hospital and rescued Private Lynch in a 20-minute operation.
"[Mohammed's] information was dead on," the newspaper quoted US Colonel Bill Durrett as saying.
Mohammed said he knew the risks involved in tipping off the Americans, but if he had not "she [Private Lynch] would not have lived", the Post quoted him as saying.
"A person is a human being regardless of nationality. Believe me, I love Americans," he said.
Mohammed and his family are being looked after at a refugee centre in the southern port city of Umm Qasr, the newspaper reported.