THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. American and coalition forces are steadily advancing against the regime of Saddam Hussein. With each new village they liberate, our forces are learning more about the atrocities of that regime, and the deep fear the dictator has instilled in the Iraqi people. Yet no crime of this dying regime will divert us from our mission. We will not stop until Iraq is free.
This week, coalition forces have been clearing southern cities and towns of Saddam's death squads and enforcers. Our Special Forces and Army paratroopers, working with Kurdish militia, have opened a northern front against the enemy. In the town of Najaf, members of our 101st Airborne Division have been welcomed as liberators. At An-Nasiriyah, Marines continue to eliminate the enemy while other Army and Marine units have closed in on Baghdad. From the skies above, coalition aircraft and cruise missiles are removing hundreds of military targets from the map.
As the vise tightens on the Iraqi regime, some of our enemies have chosen to fill their final days with acts of cowardice and murder. In combat, Saddam's thugs shield themselves with women and children. They have killed Iraqi citizens who welcome coalition troops, and they have forced other Iraqis into battle by threatening to torture or kill their families. They have executed prisoners of war, waged attacks under the white flag of truce, and concealed combat forces in civilian neighborhoods, schools, hospitals and mosques. In this war, the Iraqi regime is terrorizing its own citizens, doing everything possible to maximize Iraqi civilian casualties, and then to exploit the deaths they have caused for propaganda. These are war criminals, and they'll be treated as war criminals.
In stark contrast, the citizens of Iraq are coming to know what kind of people we have sent to liberate them. American forces and our allies are treating innocent civilians with kindness and showing proper respect to the soldiers who surrender. The people of the United States are proud of the honorable conduct of our military. And I am proud to lead such brave and decent Americans.
In recent days, we have also brought food and water and medicine to the Iraqi people. We're delivering emergency rations to the hungry. Right now, cargo ships are bound for Iraq, carrying wheat from Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas -- enough to feed 4.5 million Iraqis for one month. Additional food, supplied by the World Food Program, is moving by truck convoy across the Turkish border into northern Iraq.
We are bringing aid to the long suffering people of Iraq, and we are bringing something more: we are bringing hope. One Iraqi, when the coalition troops arrived, described the emotions of his village: They were waiting for you, he said, and all the people believe that America and Britain have come to liberate them, not to conquer.
Village by village, city by city, liberation is coming. The people of Iraq have my pledge: Our fighting forces will press on until their oppressors are gone and their whole country is free.
By our actions in this war, we serve a great and just cause. Free nations will not sit and wait, leaving enemies free to plot another September the 11th -- this time, perhaps, with chemical, biological, or nuclear terror. We'll remove weapons of mass destruction from the hands of mass murderers. And by defending our own security, we are ridding the people of Iraq from one of the cruelest regimes on earth. The United States and our allies pledged to act if the dictator did not disarm. The regime in Iraq is now learning that we keep our word.
Thank you for listening.