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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Iraqi Information Minister Holds Press Conference

Aired March 28, 2003 - 04:10   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

MOHAMMED SAEED AL SAHAF, IRAQI INFORMATION MINISTER (through translator): On another occasion, what is really interesting -- another time a farmer managed -- his name is (INAUDIBLE) -- managed to destroy a tank -- his name, this farmer (INAUDIBLE). He used an RBG and destroyed an American tank. We salute him -- this hero, who (INAUDIBLE) the courage of our people, our farmers. They are targeting accurately the enemy.
This is something that increases the resistance in the (INAUDIBLE) area and another citizen, his name is (INAUDIBLE) he managed to hit and damage a helicopter near the main area. (INAUDIBLE) managed to hit a helicopter, and maybe you'll see some videos of that helicopter soon.

In another area in Najaf, the enemy forces targeted civilian areas in the outskirts of Najaf; and until yesterday and the day before yesterday, and yesterday evening too, their bombardment caused 60 injuries and 26 martyrs. They bombed civilian neighborhoods and those cowards used cluster bombs. They were met with resistance by Fedayeen Saddam, our fighters and the citizens of the area -- they retreated from (INAUDIBLE) and (INAUDIBLE). They ran away.

They were shelled by the armed forces and by the Baath Party forces, and Fedayeen Saddam, and they had some -- some were killed and some were injured after they retreated to the desert south of the Sea of (INAUDIBLE). They tried to enter from another area in the south but they were met again with resistance and they retreated again and left for over 50 kilometers south of (INAUDIBLE).

So the campaign that was targeted -- that targeted (INAUDIBLE) resulted in a failure and they retreated. This is the latest information and this (INAUDIBLE).

I have to clarify -- we noticed that Americans -- some of the administration and some of the military officials -- about three days ago they said that they found some equipment for -- to protect against weapons of mass destruction. And they tried to raise suspicion, saying why would Iraqi soldiers -- would have such equipment? And they claim that the Iraqis know that the American's forces do not use weapons of mass destruction. So why are they supplying the Iraqi soldiers with -- why do they have these equipment to protect against weapons of mass destruction?

We want to expose their ways and their life. They know that soldiers in war should be prepared for any situation that might arise. A soldier should be prepared and the mark -- part of this preparation -- the Iraqi soldier is prepared and supplied with the latest, including a gas mask. These questioning -- is possible psychological war that they were singing before, which the world despised them for and are using for an excuse for their criminal behavior and to claim that the Iraqis have such weapons of mass destruction, such as the administrators (INAUDIBLE) talk in a way that is cheap.

We want to clarify that these equipment for Iraqi soldiers is part of the regular routine way to prepare the soldiers. This equipment is an international standard equipment. This is expected that the enemy who is the aggressor could use anything or such weapon. We know that the aggressors -- the Americans and the British -- they might, because of frustrations, and their defeat, and the resistance that is going to increase day by day, we do not -- it won't be strange that they would use -- and they own such weapons; and they might use such and make some use of these weapons; and we want to warn them against that.

These equipment are standard, and using lies for your psychological warfare is exposed by now. Also is one of the generals -- Myers -- said yesterday across in the media, which was basic propaganda; and I say to him; (INAUDIBLE) succeeds and what he said exposed his lies, because also what Rumsfeld said. Rumsfeld yesterday said in a crazy moment said that the Iraqis are killing the tons of people and they're hitting and attacking people in the streets; and the government is shooting at people. And some -- their tongues were cut by the government so they cannot -- so they would not talk. He must by crazy -- he lost his mind. And I think he lost his mind because he -- he has lost Richard Perle, who was his right arm -- his right hand -- who is a well--known Zionist.

I think that this has (INAUDIBLE) that Defense Minister Rumsfeld was (INAUDIBLE) resolve that this gang -- these vampires -- they're starting to fall apart -- this gang. And Rumsfeld wanted to distinguish himself in a different way; and he did not know that -- somebody like him should not be talking in that way.

I think that this gang who wanted this war and they are falling apart; and the resignation of Richard Perle, the war criminal, is approved for that.

The third point, briefly, with the intense -- intensifying the bombardment of Baghdad, American spokesmen and British spokesmen said that they are targeting government buildings, as if these buildings have no people in it -- as if no citizens and civilians enter these government buildings.

For example, Planning Ministry -- who goes in the Planning Ministry? Normal citizens go to do their business. The Ministry of Communication -- who goes there? As if when they want to bomb government buildings, they -- as if these have no connection to the people -- they hit the Ministry of Information, Ministry of Planning, the Communications. We tell them that this illogical and rational talk -- some of their spokesmen keep on telling the media in the name of the aggressor -- the Americans and the British -- this is unacceptable. And this is unaccepted.

In these buildings are civilians that go there to do their business. These buildings -- where is it located? Is it -- these buildings are in the city. When they target these buildings they also hit houses and homes next to these buildings. These buildings -- wasn't it built by the Iraqis with their money and their work? To say that these buildings are just government buildings shows that they are (INAUDIBLE).

Yesterday, the aggressors -- the Americans -- when they went towards the county of (INAUDIBLE) they used a matter that is made of fiberglass to destroy the electricity plant. They started dropping these materials on these plants and as a result the citizens did not have electricity in (INAUDIBLE) County. And our people need some time to clean the plant from these materials.

The casualties from the bombing of these war criminals as of last night -- the bombardment of Baghdad caused 92 injuries -- civilians -- all of them are civilians -- 92 injured and 7 martyrs.

And in (INAUDIBLE) the criminal bombardment caused 9 injuries and 2 martyrs. And in Karbalao the criminal bombardment -- American and British -- caused 28 injured and 11 martyrs. And in (INAUDIBLE) the criminal bombardment caused 12 injuries and 2 martyrs.

And as a result of this criminal bombardment on Najaf, and using a lot of cluster bombs, there were 60 injuries and 26 martyred. The total number of victims is Basra from the beginning of this aggression -- American and British aggressions -- the total till this morning in Basra in civilian neighborhoods -- the civilian casualties are -- the injured in Basra from the beginning of this aggression till this morning is 695 injured; and the number of the martyrs in Basra was 116 martyred.

In Babil yesterday, the criminal bombardment caused injuries for 82 citizens and 26 martyred. In (INAUDIBLE) the criminal bombardment caused 8 injured and one martyred.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: …yesterday, they were taught a lesson that they will never forget that the increased number of these – the victims because of their aggression is 800 injured and 230 martyrs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (through translator) This is the total number. This is the total number to our best information. These criminals, we will pursue them as war criminals. And we will pursue them in all what ways we can. And we will pursue them everywhere.

These war criminals, the Americans and the British, need to be taught a lesson which may – has humanity get rid of their evil. The Iraqis will do that, god willing. We will pursue them. And we will have the people pursue them. The people who love peace and freedom will pursue them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (through translator) Yesterday, TV and radio buildings was bombed. Today again, they were bombed. My Al Hansa (ph), a Lebanese attorney presented a brief to have President Bush and Blair tried for war crimes. And also, we’re talking about the numbers of the soldiers that are going be surrounding the cities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (through translator) The defense minister said that I expect that those criminals, they still – these criminals, the invaders, that they said I expect that if they insist on avoiding the resistance, they want to prove that they are around Baghdad. The defense minister expects that this is going to be – there will be their grave in about five to 10 days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (through translator) Your colleagues, who do not speak Arabic want me to repeat the numbers of the injured and killed. Baghdad was…

COSTELLO: All right, we’re going to jump out of this from the Iraqi information minister. And we want to bring in our Rym Brahimi, who’s live in Jordan right now, sort of analyze this and go through this.

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