Aziz says Saddam in full control
Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz said on Monday that the Iraqi leadership was "in good shape," and President Saddam Hussein was "in full control of the army and the country."
His comments, made at a news conference in the Iraqi capital, were aimed at ending intense speculation in the West as to the Iraqi leader's health and whereabouts since U.S. and British warplanes and missiles began bombarding Baghdad last Thursday.
"All members of the Iraqi leadership, with the exception of one martyr who died in a battle at Najaf, are alive and in good shape, and each and every one is working efficiently," he said.
Asked about U.S. and British officials' comments saying their forces would be advancing soon on Baghdad, Aziz said they would receive the same kind of defense and defiance they had met in southern Iraq.
"They will be welcomed (in Baghdad) in the same way they were welcomed in Umm Qasr, Faw and Nassiriya and by the Iraqi peasants who brought down the Apache (helicopter)," he said.
"We will receive them with the best music they have ever heard and with the finest flowers they have ever known," Aziz added. "We do not have candies to offer. We are just offering them bullets," he said.
Aziz also dismissed reports that U.S.-led forces advancing into Iraq had found a potential chemical weapons plant near Najaf. "This factory was visited by (U.N. weapons) inspectors. It's just a small and isolated factory used for civilian purposes," Aziz said. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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