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March 24, 2003
 
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(AP Photo)
Saddam Vows to Crush Allied Forces
Iraqi Leader Saddam Hussein Addresses His Nation on TV, Promises 'Victory Will Be Ours Soon'

The Associated Press


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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 added.

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 city.

He told the people of Basra, which has been isolated but not occupied by allied forces, to be patient because "victory is imminent."

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 the speech.

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 week.

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.


photo credit and caption:
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 via APTN)

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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