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Bush Meets with Chemical Weapons Survivors - 2003-03-15

President Bush met Friday with survivors of a chemical weapons attack against Iraqi civilians 15 years ago. It is part of the Bush administration's continuing campaign to demonize Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

President Bush met with the survivors for about 15 minutes before his staff arranged for the Iraqis to recount their misery to White House reporters.

Spokesman Ari Fleischer said the survivors' stories of the Halabja chemical weapons attack shows that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is a "brutal dictator" and the country will be better off once he is gone.

The State Department Friday backed-up White House efforts to publicize the 1988 attack by printing a full-color fact sheet with graphic photographs of some of the victims. An estimated 5,000 civilians were killed and 10,000 injured by mustard gas and other banned poisons.

The Bush administration says the anniversary of the attack is a reminder of the need to disarm Iraq. With a U.S. resolution against Iraq facing a French and Russian veto, President Bush says he is ready to use force to remove Saddam Hussein regardless of what the U.N. decides.