Accessibility links

Saddam Calls on Iraqis to Be Strong, Defeat Coalition Forces  During TV Appearance

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein appeared on state television Friday, calling on Iraqis to be strong to defeat coalition forces. Saddam's speech came a short while after an Iraqi official warned that coalition forces would be subject to unconventional attacks.

Saddam promised the Iraqi people victory, saying that dignity belongs to them. He also said that Iraqis should use whatever weapons they have to defeat coalition forces.

Saddam told his countrymen they are a great people. He said the men of the Iraqi armed forces are strong and that Iraqis are the ones charged with the task of "Jihad," or holy war, against invading forces.

It was not clear from the broadcast, whether the speech was live or was taped earlier. But it did contain references to an event that happened last week, the downing of a U.S. Apache helicopter.

On Thursday, U.S. officials said they believed all images of the Iraqi leader that have been broadcast since the war began had been taped prior to the war. But on Friday, a U.S. official said the reference to the helicopter suggests the speech was made after a coalition airstrike, March 20, on Saddam's Baghdad bunker. But the official said the speech was not conclusive proof that Saddam was still alive.

Shortly before the Iraqi leader's address, the county's information minister, Mohammed Said al-Sahhaf, gave a news conference in which he warned that coalition forces would face what he called "unconventional attacks" at Saddam International Airport, which coalition forces took control of on Friday and renamed Baghdad International Airport.

Mr. al-Sahhaf said Iraq would not use chemical or biological weapons. But he said it will do something that will be what he called a great example for coalition forces.