Iraqi leader tells citizens to #039;draw sword#039; against U.S.

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 20, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - President Saddam Hussein accused the United States of committing a ''shameful crime'' by attacking Iraq, urging his people in a nationally televised address Thursday to ''go draw your sword'' against the enemy.

Saddam appeared on television, wearing a military uniform, vowing that ''Iraq will be victorious,'' about two hours after U.S. cruise missiles hit targets in and around Baghdad. U.S. officials said the strike targeted Saddam himself and other leadership figures.

The Iraqi leader appeared subdued, and his puffy face showed signs of strain. He wore reading glasses - something he has avoided in public. He appeared less vigorous than during a meeting of his Revolutionary Command Council last week.

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''We promise you that Iraq, its leadership and its people will stand up to the evil invaders, and we will take them to such limits that they will lose their patience in achieving their plans, which are pushed by criminal Zionism,'' he said.

''They will face a bitter defeat, God willing," he said. "You will be able to achieve glory and your despicable infidel enemies will be defeated.''

''This is added to the series of their shameful crime against Iraq and humanity,'' Saddam said.