(IRNA) – On the eve of the US-led invasion of Iraq, Iran and Iraq finalized the exchange of prisoners of war (POWs), the official IRNA news agency reported Wednesday, Match, 19, 2003. Four countries participated with troops during the initial invasion of Iraq, which lasted from March, 19 to April, 9 2003.
The exchanges of remaining POWs were conducted in the past two days in the Iranian western border Khosravi town of the Kermanshah Province, the report said.
Head of the Iranian POWs Commission Abdollah Najafi said that 351 Iranian prisoners held in Iraqi prisons were released in three stages.
Meanwhile, 888 Iraqi POWs were released by Iran under the supervision of the International Committee of the Red Cross in three stages, he added.
A group of civilians, several pilgrims to holy sites in Iraq and a number of police and military staff were among the Iranian prisoners released by Iraq, he said.
The exchanges came 15 years after the end of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.
"With this exchange, there will be no more Iraqi prisoners in Iran," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said on Tuesday.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said the previous year that it had overseen the release of 95,000 Iraqi and Iranian prisoners of war.
The Iran–Iraq War (1980-1988) left tens of thousands of Iranian and Iraqi military personnel, including some who had been held as prisoners of war, are still unaccounted for. Some counts include civilians who disappeared during the conflict. One estimate is that more than 52,000 Iraqis went missing in the war. Officially, the government of Iran lists 8,000 as missing.