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Saint Leo student out of Iraq

Published Oct. 18, 2005

Fourteen American men, including Saint Leo College student John Charlton, flew from Baghdad to freedom in Amman, Jordan, Tuesday night. Charlton had been visiting his father, a U.S. Embassy employee in Kuwait, when Iraq invaded its tiny neighbor Aug. 2.

Charlton plans to leave today for the United States to try to resume his studies at the Pasco County school.

"I want to see all my friends again, be able to move around without any problems and have some good American food," he said after arriving in Amman from Baghdad.

A State Department spokeswoman said six of the 14 released Americans were on the list of 69 people in urgent need of medical care, and that two had critically ill relatives in the United States. The remaining six were college-age students _ three summer interns at the Baghdad embassy and three dependents of diplomats.

The Iraqi National Assembly also voted to release all of the more than 300 Frenchmen who also have been held in human-shield defense against a U.S. bombing attack.

And 33 Britons flew to London in a continuing trickle of hostage releases ordered by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Several hundred U.S. citizens are believed still hiding in Kuwait to avoid capture by Iraqi occupation troops. Many of their wives and children already have left on special flights organized by the U.S. and other Western governments last month.

President Bush said Tuesday he was more determined than ever that "this invading dictator gets out of Kuwait with no compromise of any kind whatsoever."

The Bush administration said it was considering expanding American military forces in the Persian Gulf beyond the 240,000 troops and other personnel already stationed there or soon to arrive.

Such a decision could indicate the administration is laying the groundwork for possible offensive military action to force Iraqi troops out of Kuwait.