Eleven British women arrived Thursday en route to Baghdad to seek the release of their husbands and relatives held hostage after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. They were expected to leave Friday for Iraq.

In Warsaw, Poland, 241 Poles returned from Iraq on Thursday and one told Polish TV at the airport that about 40 Americans being held at a chemical plant were in ``tragic' condition.The group of women who flew into Amman on Thursday includes wives, girlfriends, one fiancee and two mothers.

The British Foreign Office advised the women against going and called the trip ``risky,' but they ignored the advice and paid for the trip themselves.

``Our main objective is to seek the freedom of our husbands,' said Dorothy Goodwin, 55, whose husband, Peter, was a pilot with Kuwaiti Airways.

Sunni Jennings said: ``My husband encouraged me to come now rather than Christmas because the sooner I come, the better.'

She said she hoped to return home before Christmas with her husband, Michael, who worked as an engineer for a Kuwaiti company before the Aug. 2 invasion.

Iraq offered to allow relatives of foreigners banned from leaving to spend Christmas with loved ones. The British and U.S. governments discouraged relatives from accepting the invitation.

The women hope to negotiate di-U.S. soldiers in chemical warfare suits drink water through special containers rectly with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and ask him to release the men on humanitarian grounds.

Iraqi authorities granted them one-month visas and promised to assist them. But no meetings with Saddam were promised.

Before leaving London, Carol Cox, 31, said: ``This is not a joyous occasion. ... But we are certainly going out there as a solid group with the same aim - to get our husbands and relatives home.'

Her husband, John, was a sales manager for a shipping company in Kuwait and is now believed held at a strategic site in Iraq.

At least 600 foreigners, mainly Americans, Britons, Germans and Japanese, are held as human shields at potential military targets in Iraq and Kuwait.

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