Skip to comments.Saddam Urges Iraq to Resist U.S. Military - (Save Me, Save Me)
Posted on 03/20/2003 4:46:25 AM PST by Happy2BMe
By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq - A subdued Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) appeared on state-run television Thursday after the U.S. air strike on Baghdad, accusing the United States of a "shameful crime" and urging his people to "draw your sword" against the invaders.
"We will resist the invaders, and God willing, we will force them to reach the limits where they will lose their patience and thus lose the illusions they have entertained," the Iraqi president, in full military uniform, said in an address peppered with citations from the Quran.
"They will face a bitter defeat, God willing," he said. "You will be able to achieve glory and your despicable infidel enemies will be defeated."
The address was broadcast after the United States barraged Baghdad with cruise missiles and precision-guided bombs aimed at Saddam himself and other Iraqi leaders. There was no immediate way to determine whether Saddam's remarks were taped before the attack.
The Iraqi leader appeared tired, his face puffy. He wore reading glasses something he has avoided doing in public. As he shuffled through several sheets of paper, he referred to the American president as "little, evil Bush" and condemned the United States and Britain for "shameful crimes against Iraq (news - web sites) and humanity."
"Draw your sword and be not afraid," Saddam urged the Iraqi people. He added: "Long live jihad and long live Palestine!"
The attack came less than two hours after President Bush (news - web sites)'s deadline of 4 a.m. Baghdad time for Saddam to leave the country. Bush emphasized that the war was not against the Iraqi people but their leadership. American messages broadcast on Iraqi airwaves to the population declared, "This is the day you have been waiting for."
At about 5:30 a.m., air sirens blared in the Iraqi capital and yellow and white anti-aircraft tracers streaked through the sky. A number of strong explosions could be heard. Most seemed to be at locations outside the city, but one was followed by a ball of fire toward the southern part of the capital.
Hundreds of armed members of Saddam's Baath party and security forces took up positions in Baghdad after the sirens went off. The streets were mostly empty of civilians and of regular army troops or armor.
The raids targeted a customs office at Rutba, empty Iraqi TV buildings in Ramadi, west of Baghdad and two civilian suburbs of Baghdad, Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf told a news conference in the capital.
One Iraqi citizen was "martyred" and a number wounded in the attack on the customs office, said Sahaf, who referred to Bush as a "criminal and the son of a criminal."
He said the Americans used technological advances to distort the signal on Iraqi satellite television. He said the United States was "afraid of one single satellite channel" and vowed to "overcome this stupid act."
In Baghdad, the initial firing stopped after about 30 minutes and the capital fell still. A mosque's muezzin issued the call for dawn Islamic prayers.
Soon after, anti-aircraft fire and distant explosions broke the silence, setting off car alarms.
Allied warplanes hit targets in western Iraq, bombing at least one mobile Scud missile site. Frequent sonic booms and the sounds of aircraft could also be heard in northern Iraq above the city of Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdish autonomous enclave.
After the attack, Iraqi state radio said: "The criminals, the enemies of God, homeland and humanity, launched the aggression against our homeland and people. May God humiliate them."
Many people had streamed out of the capital on Wednesday for the relative safety of the countryside. Nearly every store was shut, and many people taped their windows.
"We cry for Baghdad," said civil servant and Baghdad historian Abdel-Jabar al-Tamimi. "We will also remember that God is stronger than oppression. Wars come and go, but Baghdad will remain."
On Wednesday, Al-Shabab, which is the most-watched TV station in Iraq and is owned by Saddam's son Odai, broadcast hours of patriotic songs and extensive archive footage of Saddam greeting crowds and firing a rifle.
Bahrain, a small Persian Gulf state allied with the United States, offered Saddam a haven Wednesday, the first such offer publicly extended. There was no immediate Iraqi comment on the offer.
Saddam Hussein, on Iraqi television, in a message broadcast after the missiles and bombs hit, telling Iraqis they will be victorious and humiliate their enemies. (Photo: IRAQI TV)