Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says coalition troops are closing in on Baghdad, and there is no chance the United States will halt the war and allow Saddam Hussein to survive.
Secretary Rumsfeld says, with the quick march to the gates of Baghdad, coalition forces have weakened Saddam Hussein's government, but there could be difficult days ahead.
"Let there be no doubt, the most dangerous fighting may very well be ahead of us," he said. "By its conduct in this war, the Iraqi regime has shown that there is no depth to the brutality to which they will not sink. The regime has been weakened to be sure, but it is still lethal, and it may prove to be more lethal in the final moments before it ends. For the senior leadership, there is no way out. Their fate has been sealed by their actions."
Mr. Rumsfeld urged Iraqi soldiers to turn their guns on Saddam Hussein. "Iraqi officers and soldiers can still survive and help to rebuild a free Iraq, if they do the right thing," he said. "They must now decide whether they want to share the fate of Saddam Hussein, or will they save themselves, turn on that condemned dictator, and help the forces of Iraq's liberation.
Secretary Rumsfeld says there is "not a chance" that the United States would agree to a deal that would stop the war and allow Saddam Hussein to survive.
He charged that any government trying to promote such an agreement is providing "hope and comfort" to the regime.
The secretary of defense also indicated it is too late for Saddam Hussein to seek exile.
Mr. Rumsfeld also says it appears Syria is still allowing military equipment to cross its border into Iraq, despite a strong warning from the United States to stop such trafficking.
Secretary Rumsfeld issued the first warning last week saying equipment, including night-vision goggles, was coming across the Syrian border to help Iraqi forces.
Mr. Rumsfeld warned Damascus that allowing equipment to be shipped into Iraq would be considered "a hostile act."