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Bush:  Death of Saddam's Sons Should Help Convince Iraqis Old Regime Gone for Good - 2003-07-23

President Bush says the deaths of Saddam Hussein's two sons should help convince Iraqis that the regime is gone for good. Uday and Qusay Hussein were killed Tuesday during a raid by U.S. troops.

President Bush said U.S. forces have ended the careers of what he called two of the former regime's "chief henchmen. "Saddam Hussein's sons were responsible for torture, maiming, and murder of countless Iraqis. Now more than ever, all Iraqis can know that the former regime is gone and will not be coming back," he said.

These were the president's first public comments on the deaths of the men who were numbers two and three on the U.S. list of most-wanted Iraqis. Mr. Bush was joined in the White House Rose Garden by Ambassador Paul Bremer, who is overseeing the establishment of a transitional authority in Iraq.

The president thanked Mr. Bremer for doing a "fine job" in what he calls an "essential cause", pursuing a comprehensive strategy to move toward a secure and prosperous future. "The nations in our coalition are determined to help the Iraqi people recover from years of tyranny. And we are determined to help build a free and sovereign and democratic nation," he said.

The president blamed "a few remaining hold-outs" from the former government for near-daily attacks on U.S. troops. In league with Iraqi allies, Mr. Bush said coalition forces are on the offensive to destroy those who he says are "targeting success" by killing new police graduates and attacking those guarding universities, power plants, and oil facilities. "These killers are the enemies of Iraq's people. They operate mainly in a few areas of the country, and wherever they operate, they are being hunted and they will be defeated," he said.

The immediacy of the threat from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the risk that those weapons could be passed to terrorists were the president's biggest justifications for invading Iraq. Eighty-three days after he declaring major combat operations over, none of those weapons has yet been found.

Mr. Bush says removing the threat that Iraq could help arm terrorists makes the United States and its allies more secure while helping to bring peace to the Middle East. "A free, democratic, peaceful Iraq will not threaten America or our friends with illegal weapons," he said. "A free Iraq will not be a training ground for terrorists or a funnel of money for terrorists or provide weapons for terrorist who would willingly use them to strike our country or our allies."

Mr. Bush says the United States has assumed great responsibilities for Iraq's future but is not alone in the challenge as 19 nations have more than 13,000 troops in the country to help stabilize the situation.

The president called on more United Nations members to support the country's new provisional ruling council and contribute money and troops to help rebuild Iraq.