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No Quick End to Iraqi War, says Rumsfeld - 2003-03-25

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the war in Iraq is much closer to the beginning than the end.

Secretary Rumsfeld sought to minimize expectations of a swift end to the war, even as coalition forces continue closing in on Baghdad. hE said the defeat of the Iraqi government is certain, but that it is still not known how many "days or weeks" it will take to end the war.

He accused Iraq of brutality and acts of treachery on the battlefield and violating the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war.

He called such acts the behavior of desperate men.

"This campaign could well grow more dangerous in the coming days and weeks as coalition forces close on Baghdad and the regime is faced with its certain death. But the outcome is assured," the defense secretary said.

Mr. Rumsfeld added that there is sketchy intelligence information that once coalition soldiers get close to the Iraqi capital there is an increased chance Saddam Hussein's troops will use chemical weapons.

"There has been intelligence scraps, who knows how accurate they are, chatter in the system that suggest that the closer that coalition forces get to Baghdad and Tikrit, the greater the likelihood," he said. "Some command and control arrangements have been put in place. Whether it will happen or not remains to be seen."

Secretary Rumsfeld said at least 3,500 Iraqi soldiers have surrendered.

Mr. Rumsfeld said humanitarian aid, including food, water and medicine, are already being delivered and port facilities will soon be available to bring in much more.