INTRODUCTION: Western newsmen have been taken to an area near Guelta Zemmour, in the Western Sahara, where the biggest battle in the six year was between the Polisario guerrillas and Moroccan troops has taken place.
GUELTA ZEMMOUR, WESTERN SAHARA (VISNEWS - MOHAMMED LOTFI)
GV PAN Polisario troops in desert
GV PAN Captured weapons. (4 SHOTS)
SV Military leader Ibrahim Ghali. (2 SHOTS)
GV Captured prisoners. (2 SHOTS)
SV Captured identity documents
SV Troops guarding prisoners and SV prisoners. (2 SHOTS)
SV Ibrahim Ghali
CU & GV Polisario troops moving off in trucks. (2 SHOTS)
Background: INTRODUCTION: Western newsmen have been taken to an area near Guelta Zemmour, in the Western Sahara, where the biggest battle in the six year was between the Polisario guerrillas and Moroccan troops has taken place. Experts estimate losses at about 250 on each side. The guerrillas said they had shot down two Moroccan military planes. Both sides claimed victory in the remote oasis garrison 354 kilometres (220 miles) south-east of El Aaiun.
SYNOPSIS: The vast phosphate-rich area around Guelta Zemmour has been the scene of intense fighting. Polisario guerrillas have been trying to gain control of the area since 1976, when Morocco and Mauritania took control from Spain. Mauritania later signed a separate peace with the Polisario. Newsmen were shown weapons captured by the guerrillas. The Moroccan government has asked for clarification from the Soviet Union about the use of Soviet-made anti-aircraft missiles operated by Non-African elements helping the guerrillas.
Polisario military leader, Ibrahim Ghali, said the fighting was continuing between Bou Ceaa and Guelta Zemmour and involved thousands of troops rushed to the area when it came under assault earlier this month.
Newsmen were shown captured Moroccan prisoners, together with their identity documents. Morocco has said that the guerrillas, backed by Libya and Algeria, came from Mauritania and that the sophisticated Sam six or eight missiles used, had not been seen since the war began six years ago. The Moroccan government has protested to the Soviet authorities.
Morocco says the Polisario guerrillas, fighting for the independence for the independence of the Moroccan-administered territory, used the Soviet missiles t shoot down two Moroccan Mirage fighter-bombers and a Hercules Troop Transport plane earlier in the month. King Hassan of Morocco told the Soviet Charge D'Affaires that the missiles used were so sophisticated that African technicians were incapable of employing them.
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