Saturday, April 5, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Allies seize Baghdad airport
Saddam makes dramatic appearance on streets

An image from Iraqi television shows what it says is President Saddam Hussein visiting a residential area of Baghdad on Friday.
An image from Iraqi television shows what it says is President Saddam Hussein visiting a residential area of Baghdad on Friday. Saddam, dressed in military uniform, was mobbed by cheering, chanting Iraqis. There was no way of verifying when the film was made. Saddam has a number of doubles. The clip was shown on a day when US troops said they had taken control of Saddam International Airport.
— Reuters photo

Dubai, April 4
Consolidating their hold on Baghdad, US troops today captured the international airport on the outskirts of the city, giving the invading forces a key base of operations in a war to oust defiant Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

In another development, Mr Saddam Hussein was today shown making a dramatic appearance on the streets of Baghdad during daytime in an act of bravado amidst lusty cheers of thousands of Iraqis.

Hemmed by his securitymen Mr Saddam Hussein in his olive green uniform and beret, swaggered through the streets shaking hands and being embraced and his hand kissed by the elderly persons as shown by state-owned Iraqi television while young Iraqis waved guns.

US troops said they had found thousands of boxes of white powder, nerve agent antidote and Arabic documents on how to engage in chemical warfare at an industrial site south of Baghdad.

Col John Peabody, engineer Brigade Commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, said the materials were found at the Lcatifiyah industrial complex just south of Baghdad. He also said that they discovered atropine, used to counter the effects of nerve agents.

After capturing Saddam International Airport which the USA said was a “gateway to the future of Iraq”, they promptly renamed it as Baghdad International Airport.

Meanwhile, a report from Baghdad said Iraq threatened a “non-conventional” act today against US-led forces and hinted at suicide attacks while ruling out the use of weapons of mass destruction.

“We will commit a non-conventional act on them, not necessarily military,” Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf told a news conference. “We will do something that will be a great example for these mercenaries.”

Asked if Baghdad planned to use weapons of mass destruction, he said: “No, not at all. But we will conduct a kind of martyrdom operation.” Iraqi officials often use the word “martyrdom” in describing suicide attacks.

Mr Saddam Hussein issued a televised message saying, “We are determined, God willing, to defeat them and destroy them on the walls of our Capital, just like we are determined to destroy their wretched armies and defeat it on every spot of land of Islam.”

In the message read out by Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, Saddam asked his people to fight the aggressors. “Hit them night and day and make the land of Muslims a blazing fire for the invaders.”

Coalition forces also bombed Iraqi Air Force headquarters in central Baghdad. Blasts on the outskirts before dawn shook buildings in the city centre.

Much of the Iraqi Capital remained without electricity and water after being hit by another night of sustained bombing.

US troops also moved into the centre of the holy city of Najaf to search for paramilitary fighters. Further south, British soldiers claimed to have made deeper inroads to capture the port city of Basra.

Kurdish forces crossed a bridge near strategic northern junction of Khazer after fierce fighting with Iraqi troops.

In a speech to 20,000 Marines and their families in North Carolina, US President George W. Bush said, the days of Saddam’s regime were “coming to an end.” PTI


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