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Saddam Hussein calls for jihad;
US says Baghdad is now in sight
April 02, 2003 06:17 IST
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Tuesday urged his people to fight the 'invaders' even as the US claimed that its efforts to dislodge his government were gaining momentum.
In a message read out by Information Minister Mohammad Said al-Sahhaf, Saddam Hussein exhorted his countrymen and Muslims all over the world to wage jihad (holy war) against the US, which has attacked Iraq.
The US condemned the appeal for jihad, but it may be finding an echo in the Arab world with several countries, chiefly Egypt, reporting anti-war protests. The demonstrations were not restricted to the Arab world alone.
Opinion among the demonstrators seems to be veering around to the view that their nations should not depend on US aid, in any form, if it came at the cost of innocent lives.
On the other hand, the US and the United Kingdom focused on the fact that Hussein did not appear in person on television to draw attention to their claims of him having being injured in their aerial bombardment.
At a briefing at the Pentagon, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld insisted the US would not settle for anything less than Saddam Hussein's ouster. He denied reports of any sort of negotiation with the Iraqi government.
Rumsfeld took the opportunity to refute reports of disagreements between him and field commanders, and he was supported by chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Richard Myers.
Myers also apologised to the families of the seven women and children killed by US troops on Monday in Najaf, 150km south of Baghdad.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan questioned the legitimacy of the attack on Iraq by pointing to the fact that the US is yet to find any weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).
Even then, the US is going full steam ahead with reinforcing its troops in Iraq. The 4th Infantry Division was among some others that arrived in Kuwait to join those already in the Gulf region.