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Petraeus faints in US Congress

General David Petraeus, the commander of US forces in the Middle East, fell ill at the witness table during a Senate hearing on Tuesday and had to be escorted from the room. He later returned and agreed to continue testifying.

world Updated: Jun 17, 2010 00:01 IST

General David Petraeus, the commander of US forces in the Middle East, fell ill at the witness table during a Senate hearing on Tuesday and had to be escorted from the room. He later returned and agreed to continue testifying.

Petraeus was listening to Senator John McCain express concern about the direction of the US war effort in Afghanistan when he appeared to faint. Aides immediately rushed to help him, and he was led out of the hearing room.

Before he fell ill, Petraeus had testified that US and Afghan forces in Afghanistan were making progress in their fight against the Taliban insurgency.

Petraeus slumped in his chair as McCain was wrapping up questioning about whether the general supports President Barack Obama’s pledge to begin withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan in July 2011.

Moments earlier, Petraeus said, “That is the policy, and I support it.” As McCain was winding up his statement and praising Petraeus and the US military, he stopped speaking and stared as Petraeus appeared to pass out.

About 25 minutes later, Petraeus came back into the hearing room and said he was prepared to resume testifying, but Levin overruled him and announced he was adjourning the hearing until Wednesday morning.

A smiling Petraeus said he had felt “a little lightheaded” and wryly assured the committee that “it wasn’t Senator McCain’s questions” that make him ill. “I just got dehydrated,” he said.

As the hearing began, both Levin and McCain pointed to what they described as disturbing trends in Afghanistan, where the Taliban movement has made substantial gains.

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