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Reports: US Military to Give Red Cross Names of Terror Suspects

The US military has begun notifying the Red Cross of the identities of terror suspects being held at camps in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to US media.

In a first, the Pentagon is handing the International Committee of the Red Cross the names of militants held secretly at a camp in Iraq and another in Afghanistan, The New York Times reported Saturday. (AFP/DOD/File) The change in military policy took effect early this month with no public announcement, the New York Times reported, quoting unnamed officials.

The Red Cross would not comment on the report which claimed that it would be given access to scores of foreign fighters held at the secret camps in the two countries.

A military officer told the newspaper that the names and idenfication numbers of prisoners held at 'temporary screening camps' in Balad in Iraq, and Bagram in Afghanistan would be provided to the Red Cross within two weeks of capture.

The Times reported that as many as 30 to 40 foreign prisoners have been held at the camp in Iraq at any given time. It reported no estimate for the Afghan camp but said it probably was smaller.

Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said he could not discuss any changes of policy or specifics of handling detainees at the camps.

He said their purpose was temporarily to hold high-value targets to remove them from the battlefield and to determine as quickly as possible if they had information of immediate value to ongoing coalition military operations.

"They are not secret prisons," Mr Whitman said, adding that their existence was disclosed to the host nations and to the Red Cross.

The move is a radical shift in policy for the Pentagon which has previously said providing information about detainees could jeopardize counter-terrorism efforts.

The shift in policy was set in motion by General David Petraeus shortly after he took over as commander at U.S. Central Command in October, the newspaper reported.

The policy change was made formal in the results this summer of a review conducted by Air Force Lieutenant General Philip Breedlove, the military officer said.

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