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[RC] Iraqui horses/ AP story - Jonni Jewell

Iraqis Wrangle Horses As Regime Falls

.c The Associated Press

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - It was enough to make a Texan president's heart swell:
Hassan Atiya, an Iraqi on horseback, riding off into the chaos of wartime
Baghdad with a vigorous wave and an exclamation - ``I love you, America.''

And when it came to horse-wrangling Wednesday, he wasn't the only one.

As forces from the U.S. 7th Marines claimed Fort Rashid, a sprawling
in southeastern Baghdad, they found among their prizes a field filled with
Arabian-Appaloosa horses in brown, gray and glorious chestnut.

What followed was a scramble - a weirdly good-natured permutation of the
looting elsewhere in Iraq this week.

Ordinary Iraqis took to the field and the stables beyond, corralling the
horses suddenly available to them. Their scramble - filled with laughter and
grins - began early Wednesday and continued late in the afternoon, testimony
to the elusiveness of their equine quarry.

``For my mother!'' one man shouted as he claimed a horse. Others said they
planned to sell their prizes.

Artillery fire echoed nearby through the afternoon, making some of the
skittish and more elusive. They snorted, darted and bolted as they tried to
elude capture.

Nearby, Marines stood guard over parts of the fort as they scoured it for
dangers and tried to secure its every corner - including areas where AK-47s
and ammunition were found. They kept Iraqis at a distance, but some of those
chasing horses sprinted by and jubilantly greeted American forces.

``Bush!'' they said, turning their thumbs up as they smiled.

Then the thumbs went down. ``Saddam!'' they yelled in disapproval. Marines
waved and smiled back.

The fort - home to an airfield and athletic facilities, among other
- was chockablock with looting fodder. Iraqis emerged from buildings toting
chairs, tables, even sofas. The Marines made no move to stop them.

Some Iraqis mounted the horses and were immediately unseated. Others tied
horses to fences in preparation to take them away; one, tethered
broke its neck. Groups of men worked together to corner restive animals. The
more skilled ones got their horses in harnesses and led them down the road,

Atiya was one of those who succeeded. As he prepared to ride off, he
complained of a life with ``no food and no rice'' for his two children, his
wife, and the third baby on the way.

``I love you, America!'' he shouted before drawing his finger across his
throat as he said one more word: ``Saddam.''

Then, bareback and barefoot, he pointed his horse toward the road and was on
his way.

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