CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, Qatar – U.S. Marines have reported that about 2,500 Iraqi Republican Guard surrendered between Kut and Baghdad, U.S. Central Command said Friday.
The surrender apparently occurred after clashes of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and the Republican Guard's Baghdad Division, said Navy Capt. Frank Thorp, spokesman at U.S. Central Command.
He stressed that Central Command had only received the report from the Marines on the ground and couldn't confirm it outright.
"We have reports of approximately 2,500 soldiers of the Iraqi Republican Guard laying down their arms in their confrontation with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force," he said, citing reports from the Marines.
He said those who showed a propensity to fight would become prisoners of war, while others who have shown they do not want to fight will be allowed to return home.
U.S. Central Command has said it has more than 4,500 POWs in custody.
Thorp said the reports indicated that there were uniforms, boots and helmets on the streets and that the surrender showed the division was "demonstrating an unwillingness to fight against the American forces."
Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, deputy operations director, announced Wednesday that the Baghdad Division had been "destroyed" in its confrontation with the Marines near Kut and was no longer a viable fighting force.