Yep, they hate us all right.
Iraqi civilians fleeing heavy fighting have stunned and delighted hungry US marines in central Iraq by giving them food, as guerrilla attacks continue to disrupt coalition supply lines to the rear.
Sergeant Kenneth Wilson said Arabic-speaking US troops made contact with two busloads of Iraqis fleeing south along Route Seven towards Rafit, one of the first friendly meetings with local people for the marines around here.
“They had slaughtered lambs and chickens and boiled eggs and potatoes for their journey out of the frontlines,” Wilson said.
At one camp, the buses stopped and women passed out food to the troops, who have had to ration their army-issue packets of ready-to-eat meals because of disruptions to supply lines by fierce fighting further south.
Corpsman Tony Garcia said the food donation was an act of appreciation for the American effort to topple the brutal regime of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
“They gave us eggs and potatoes to feed our marines and corpsmen. I feel the local population are grateful and they want to see an end to Saddam Hussein,” he said.
“It was a lovely, beautiful gesture.”
Khairi Ilrekibi, 35, a passenger on one of the buses, which broke down near the marine position, said he could speak for the 20 others on board.
In broken English he told a correspondent travelling with the marines: “We like Americans,” adding that no one liked Saddam Hussein because “he was not kind”.
He said Iraqi civilians living near him were opposed to Saddam Hussein and that most were hiding in their homes and were extremely tired.
Lance Corporal David Polikowsky…had been moved by comments from local civilians.
He said they told him: “We welcome you. What is your name? We will pray for you.”
He said another group of POWS, largely conscripts, had been moved south.
“They told me they wanted to go to America after the war. I said where. They said California. I said why? They said the song Hotel California and they left singing Hotel California.”