Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the world is watching history unfold in Iraq and he compared the jubilant scenes in Baghdad with such momentous events as the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Secretary Rumsfeld said "there is no question, but that there are difficult and very dangerous days ahead in Iraq and that the fighting will continue for some period."
He said anyone seeing the faces of liberated Iraqis in Baghdad, has to say that this is a very good day. "The scenes of free Iraqis celebrating in the streets, riding American tanks, tearing down the statutes of Saddam Hussein in the center of Baghdad are breathtaking," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "Watching them one can not help but think of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Iron Curtain. We are seeing history unfold, events that will shape the course of a country, the fate of a people, and potentially the future of the region."
Secretary Rumsfeld said Saddam Hussein is now taking his rightful place alongside former dictators like Hitler and Stalin.
The secretary said coalition forces must still account for Saddam and his sons, free prisoners of war, secure northern oil fields, wipeout pockets of resistance, find weapons of mass destruction, and remove remnants of the regime from "every corner of the country."
"Baghdad is in the process of being liberated, although battles continue in and around the city," he said. "The regime has been run out of a number of Iraqi cities and towns, but other Iraqi cities are still being contested and there will still be tough fighting and difficult tasks ahead. We still must capture, account for or otherwise deal with Saddam Hussein and his sons and the senior Iraqi leadership."
Secretary Rumsfeld also had stern words for Syria, reiterating earlier assertions that the government was serving as a conduit for military equipment, including night-vision goggles, heading to Iraqi forces.
Rumsfeld also suggested that the government in Damascus is helping Saddam loyalists to leave Iraq and cross the border into Syria.