The surrender came through after weeks of negotiations, a Kurdish mediator in Mosul said on Friday.

 

The US army confirmed that Hashim Ahmad was in its custody. A statement issued by the US Central Command said the former Iraqi defence minister turned himself in to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) on 19 September.

   

Dawood Baghistani, a local human rights official who has acted as go-between in talks with Ahmad arranged the surrender to Major General David Petraeus.  The mediator said Ahmad was handed over "with great respect" and was with his family at the time.

  

Baghistani, a member of the Iraqi Human Rights League, said the US military had promised to remove Ahmad's name from the list of 55 most-wanted and treat him very well. "We trust the promise," Baghistani said, adding, "there was no political or material price" for his surrender.

 

Respect

 

“US forces have even said Hashim can return to his home-town of Mosul, at an appropriate time,” he said, adding that “all Iraqis, particularly in Mosul, respect Hashim very much.”

 

Our correspondent quoting Baghistani said he believed that Hashim had taken the right decision, particularly after holding talks with US forces. “I’m sure US forces will fairly deal with him,” he said.

 

File pic of Hashim Ahmad: well
respected in Mosul

Hashim is now in good health and high spirits,” Baghistani said. “He vowed to continue serving the city of Mosul and its people,” he said.  “Hashim has always served his country, as part of a military man’s duty,” he added.

 

Hashim’s surrender took place in his house in Mosul,” Baghistani said. “We chose the most suitable time, to avoid possible attacks,” he added.

 

When asked about Hashim’s whereabouts since the end of the US-led invasion on Iraq, Baghistani revealed that he was in Mosul.

 

Voluntary

 

Hashim surrendered only after US forces had announced he was not linked to any crimes,” Baghistani said. “We made sure he would not be offensively arrested or killed,” he said. “We did a good humanitarian job. We did not betray Hashim,” he added.

 

"I think Hashim Ahmad is now on his way to Baghdad," Baghistani said.   

 

“We made sure he would not be offensively arrested or killed”

Dawood Baghistani,
Iraqi Human Rights League

Baghistani said the former defence minister stressed he was willingly giving himself up "and we hope a new page will open and ... we forget the past."

  

"I told (US commanders) we are not informers, and we are not selling ... Sultan Hashim, who deserves appreciation and respect," he said.

  

"Sultan Hashim is not responsible for the fall of Baghdad (to US-led forces on 9 April) or for what happened ... He was not a decision-maker even though he was defence minister," Baghistani said.

 

Reacting to the surrender, Dr. Dhafer al-‘Ani, an Iraqi political analyst told Aljazeera that it was not significant to the ongoing events in the country.

 

Al-Ani said he hoped that the Kurds would not treat Hashim offensively the way they treated former Iraqi Vice-President Taha Yasin Ramadan when he recently surrendered to the US forces. 

 

The surrender brings to 40 the number of most wanted Iraqi officials either killed or in US custody. 

 

US soldiers hurt

 

Meanwhile, several US soldiers have been wounded in a rocket-propelled grenade attack near the city of Hit, west of Baghdad.

 

Quoting eyewitnesses our correspondent said a US Humvee vehicle was set ablaze.

 

US forces cordoned off the area, searching for the attackers, the eyewitnesses said.