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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Saddam Urged Defiance

Updated: 15:13, Sunday November 05, 2006

Just three days after the start of the war in Iraq Saddam Hussein issued a defiant call to his troops, urging them to repel US and British forces.

Speaking on Iraqi television, he said God was on their side and would help them defeat the "infidels".

It was not clear whether the 20-minute speech was live or recorded. The Pentagon said it was "dated".

The Iraqi leader claimed his troops had inflicted serious losses on the invading forces and praised his commanders in the field.

He singled out the Iraqi commander at Umm Qasr, the southern port where Coalition troops struggled to dislodge more than 120 Republican Guards.

He also said "victory is very near" in nearby Basra, which US and British tank units were still trying to secure.

And he called on those defending Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul to hold firm, saying "despicable enemies would be defeated".

He said: "All the infidels will be defeated. We will hit them in the neck, hit them everywhere and tell all the believers this has been achieved. There will be victory soon."

Saddam appeared in full military uniform and seemed calmer than during his previous address on Thursday, after the first air strikes on Baghdad.

Journalists in the Iraqi capital and elsewhere in the Middle East said they were confident the man in the broadcast was Saddam.

The Iraqi leader had a handful of lookalikes who sometimes stood in for him.

Speculation had abounded about Saddam's fate since the war started.

Some reports had claimed he was killed in air strikes, others that he was badly wounded.

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