RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA, JAN. 19 -- U.S.-led forces are dropping leaflets and broadcasting radio programs into occupied Kuwait urging Iraqi soldiers to surrender, and Saudi Arabia is completing plans to accommodate what it hopes will be thousands of prisoners of war.

The U.S.-Saudi effort to encourage and receive Iraqi defectors is part of a strategy to treat them well and weaken their allegiance to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Amid the allied air bombardment of Iraqi positions in Kuwait, planes have dropped masses of leaflets that call on Iraqis to defect and spell out how to signal their desire to do so. Leaflets also have been dropped into the sea, where it is hoped they will drift ashore and be read by Iraqis in coastal positions, an informed source said.

Allied officials have expressed hope that Iraqi soldiers also are listening to Arabic-language broadcasts by Western and Saudi radio stations and a new station operated by the Iraqi political opposition. To encourage this, the Kuwaiti resistance has secretly distributed hundreds of transistor radios in Kuwait in the past few months, Kuwaiti sources said.

Senior Saudi military officials long have said that they expect a great number of the estimated 220,000 Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait to surrender once faced with hostile fire. The Saudis are said to be preparing camps in the desert to hold such prisoners of war.

"The intention is to receive {the Iraqi prisoners}, treat them well, feed them, let them take a bath and send them back," explained one source close to the Saudis. "We want to dramatize that these are Arab brothers, Moslem brothers." To reinforce this theme of Arab brotherhood, Americans will have no contact with the Iraqi prisoners in the camps, he said.

Although war prisoners are not supposed to be used for political purposes under international law, Saudi Arabia and its Arab partners eventually could use captured Iraqis as a bargaining chip in postwar talks with Iraq. Baghdad holds hundreds and possibly thousands of Kuwaiti civilian and military prisoners.

Since the war began Thursday, 22 Iraqis have been seized by allied forces, and a Saudi spokesman said Friday that more than 10 were "under Saudi control." He gave no details of their capture.

Twelve Iraqis captured from offshore Kuwaiti oil platforms today were taken aboard a U.S. ship and a Kuwaiti patrol boat to a U.S. Marine facility and were to be sent to a POW camp, a military statement said.

The Saudis also hold several hundred Iraqis who deserted their posts in Kuwait in the months before fighting began. Saudi officials have confirmed that they hold 300, but a senior military official said recently that the total number of deserters is much higher, possibly close to 1,000.

The question of which government ultimately will hold Iraqi POWs was discussed at the highest allied levels over past weeks, a diplomatic source said. In Riyadh today, U.S. Marine Maj. Gen. Robert B. Johnston said prisoners will be handed by their captors to Saudi Arabia, which "will be ultimately responsible" for them.

The Saudi government has promised the International Committee of the Red Cross that it will "strictly abide" by the Third Geneva Convention governing treatment of prisoners of war, a diplomatic source said. The ICRC is the internationally recognized overseer of compliance with the convention.

But a recent Saudi statement has raised questions among some diplomats about the status of the captives. "In recognition that our battle is not with the people of Iraq but with the present leadership of that country, we will treat the Iraqis not as prisoners but as military refugees," Saudi military spokesman Gen. Fahd Jarbou said Friday. "They are to be fed, sheltered and otherwise taken care of as though they were pilgrims in our country," he said.

Jarbou did not explain how a "military refugee" is different from a POW. But some diplomats said they fear that a Saudi attempt to make a real distinction could lead to violations of the convention.

For example, under the convention, POWs are protected from any effort at indoctrination by the government that holds them.

The accord also specifies that those who voluntarily turn themselves in to enemy forces are regarded as POWs, but the Saudi government has not yet complied with rules that it notify the ICRC within seven days that it is holding prisoners.