BAGHDAD, Iraq March 24 —
With U.S.-led forces closing in on Baghdad, a composed Saddam
Hussein tried to rally his people and his troops with a stirring
address Monday in which he vowed that allied forces would be crushed
and "victory will be ours soon."
The Iraqi president appeared in full military uniform and seemed
more robust and relaxed than during his last nationally televised
address on Thursday, which followed the first round of cruise
missile attacks on his capital. There had been unconfirmed reports
that he was killed or injured in those attacks.
"Iraq will strike the necks (of each enemy fighter)," he said.
"Strike them, and strike evil so that evil will be defeated."
Taunting the allies, he asked: "Have you found what the devil
that besets your soul promised you in Iraq?"
Saddam urged loyal Iraqis to cut the throats of the invaders and
insisted that Iraqi troops would prevail in the fight against a more
technologically advanced enemy. He also made specific reference to
U.S. tactics and the fighting around Umm Qasr, in an obvious attempt
to show that the address was relatively current.
"Those who are believers will be victorious. In these decisive
days, the enemy tried not using missiles and fighter jets as they
did before. This time, they sent their infantry troops. This time,
they have come to invade and occupy your land," he said.
Praising his troops, Saddam said Iraqi fighters were "causing the
enemy to suffer and to lose every day."
"As time goes by, they will lose more and they will not be able
to escape lightly from their predicament," he said. "We will make it
as painful as we can."
Saddam said American and British forces had "become entangled" in
Iraq's desert, with "Iraqi residents surrounding them and aiming
their fire at them."
Addressing the people of Iraq's cities Basra, Baghdad, Mosul and
elsewhere Saddam warned that the enemy will intensify its raids as
their troops suffer casualties on the ground.
"Be patient. God's victory is coming.... Be tolerant," he
Saddam said the ground battles were going well and Iraqi troops
had been able to inflict great losses on the enemy. He praised his
commanders, several of them by name, saying their units fought
fiercely against coalition troops.
Among those he named were the commanders of the 51st, 11th and
18th divisions, which are posted in Basra, Iraq's second-largest
He told the people of Basra, which has been isolated but not
occupied by allied forces, to be patient because "victory is
Saddam said the allies were "trying to avoid engaging our forces"
a clear reference to the U.S. strategy of avoiding having to enter
provincial cities adding that "they are using their warplanes to
attack our troops without engaging them in fighting."
"Whenever they penetrated our territory, they were faced with
fierce resistance from Iraqi people, tribes, party members, Saddam's
Fedayeen and security forces," he said.
In Washington, the State Department had no immediate comment on
U.S. intelligence agencies, however, routinely analyze speeches
by Saddam in an attempt to determine from speech patterns and image
comparisons the authenticity of the appearance.
That practice has taken on even more significance in the wake of
unresolved questions about whether he was killed or injured in the
U.S. bombing of a place where he was believed to be staying last
After his last purported TV speech, it took the CIA several days
to conclude that the man speaking probably was Saddam, but that
there was no way to determine whether it was taped and, if so, when
the tape was made.
|Iraq President Saddam Hussein
delivers an address in this image from video released on
Monday morning March 24, 2003 by Iraqi TV. (AP Photo/Iraqi TV
Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This
material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or