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Iraqi Information Minister Muhammad Sa'id al-Sahhaf has denied allegations about Russian weapon supplies. Updating military developments, he listed Iraqi casualties and said eight US soldiers had been killed and 30 enemy vehicles destroyed. He said it had come as a surprise to see the "cowardice of the American soldiers". He also said the "shock and awe" strategy was backfiring on the US, citing as an example a weapon described as containers that emit loud sounds which, he said, had not frightened Iraqis at all. Al-Sahhaf was speaking at a news conference with Iraqi Vice-President Taha Yasin Ramadan and Armed Forces spokesman Staff Maj-Gen Hazim al-Rawi in Baghdad.
The following is the text of a report broadcast live by Qatari Al-Jazeera satellite TV on 25 March; subheadings inserted editorially.
Al-Sahhaf, in English, transcribed from English I am not going to take a lot of your time. I am going to brief you about the latest in the battlefield, and I would like to concentrate on the following points. We think it is very important.
First, we would like to say that what the enemy has mentioned about the story that Russia had provided Iraq with some so-and-so technology or something like that, we inform you frankly that this is completely baseless. We do not have Russian experts in Iraq. We did not ask, and we received nothing, because we did not ask any country, and in particular Russia, to supply us with anything, whether it is weapons or technology. So what the American side had mentioned about this particular issue is a lie and completely baseless. It is a way to exert pressures on the Russians. Therefore, the Russians had denied that, and we, from our side, state officially that this is a fabrication and completely baseless. Nothing was received by Iraq. We didn't ask any country, and in particular, Russia.
As for the experts, I think the story distributed by the Americans are a very poor one. You remember three or four days back, they said well we changes thought they killed several Iraqi soldiers or persons in the south and when they tried to see the corpses, they found the corpse of a Russian expert. This is silly; this is stupid. This is completely a lie. Therefore, again, Iraq has not asked and Iraq has not received any of what the Americans and the British had alleged recently.
Destruction of enemy vehicles
Two, in the battle theatres during the last 24 hours, the main information we had, I mean it is sure, we have verified in Al-Muthanna Governorate, there has been during the night, last night, and in the dawn a very fierce fighting against American column, which approached that area. And till about 1040 this morning, the results are the following: The Iraqi fighters, Arab Ba'th Socialist Party fighters, and the masses supporting the party activists, the party cadres, they have destroyed 30 vehicles, some of them tanks and personnel carriers. During the battles last night and at dawn, they had destroyed three American helicopters.
Al-Sahhaf, in Arabic For the Arab media, regarding the battlefronts, in Al-Muthanna Governorate, the American mercenaries advanced, possibly with the British, towards the outskirts of Al-Muthanna Governorate. The battle was led by the heroic fighters of the Arab Socialist Ba'th Party. They are the best-trained in combat, along with tens of thousands of the sons of our people, the masses of the party in Al-Muthanna, and the sons of tribes in Al-Muthanna. Up until 1030 or 1040 0730 or 0740 gmt on 25 March , they had burnt and destroyed around 30 vehicles, including tanks and APCs and damaged three enemy helicopters. God bless the fighters of the Arab Socialist Ba'th Party.
"Cowardice of the American soldiers"
Correspondent Has the word indistinct continued?
Al-Sahhaf No, they fled. The Americans louts fled. Indeed, concerning the fighting waged by the heroes of the Arab Socialist Ba'th Party yesterday, one amazing thing really is the cowardice of the American soldiers. We had not anticipated this. The cadres of the Arab Socialist Ba'th Party had not imagined that those people are that weak. They had not expected this. The defeat happened in an amazing manner. Those villains are heavy because of their equipment. Indeed, the fighters, led by the heroic Ba'thists, did very well in the Governorate of Al-Muthanna, especially its southern outskirts. We will reveal the casualties once we complete the count.
In the area of Suq al-Shuyukh, and I am also telling you this for the first time.
Correspondent, in English Can you carry on in English, please?
Al-Sahhaf, in English, transcribed from English Yes, I will. The second war theatre battlefield is Suq al-Shuyukh after Al-Muthanna and near the changes thought there is a bridge which links the surroundings with the highway, which connects the south up with the Middle Euphrates cities. A battle had taken place there, and the Arab Ba'th Socialist Party fighters had killed eight of those invaders and destroyed three personnel carriers. The more important thing is, among those a woman destroyed one of the personnel carriers. Her name is Maysun Hamid Abdallah. She is an Iraqi lady. She is a heroine. Her name is Maysun Hamid Abdallah. She destroyed one of the personnel carriers by using an RPG rocket-propelled grenade in Suq al-Shuyukh in the south.
Al-Sahhaf, in Arabic In Al-Nasiriyah, I will speak in Arabic here. In Suq al-Shuyukh, the American mercenaries tried to attack a residential area near a bridge that connects that area to the highway. This is the motorway. The heroes of the Arab Socialist Ba'th Party confronted this group of louts and killed eight of them, eight American soldiers. They hit three personnel carriers. What happened is that one of the people who used the RPG was an Iraqi woman by the name of Maysun Hamid Abdallah. She used an RPG and burnt an APC.
In the city of Al-Nasiriyah, yesterday night the mercenaries intensified their cowardly air bombardment of residential quarters in the city. Although it was nighttime, the heroes of the Arab Socialist Ba'th Party fought the helicopters that approached and took part in striking residential quarters. Also, in the same sector, there is a crossroad which leads from Al-Nasiriyah to Al-Jibayish in the marshlands. A force of the American louts came to this crossroads. The heroes of the Arab Socialist Ba'th Party and the masses of the people were waiting, as if they had known that the louts would come from this road. They resisted them and killed a number of them. The number I have is three, possibly more. They fled and retreated. At the crossroad in Al-Nasiriyah, in one of the peripheries, the road is divided into two parts. The American louts came to the crossroad, and the fighters of the Arab Socialist Ba'th Party had expected that and were quite close. They attacked them. The number I have is three killed, and they fled. We will receive some more information later.
Al-Sahhaf, in English, transcribed from English I will speak briefly, because it is very enthusiastic for the Arab media, briefly, in another place in the south in the crossroad between Al-Nasiriyah and Al-Jibayish - some of the Americans were dropped there. The Arab Ba'th Socialist Party fighters confronted them and killed three of them. They fled. The other thing words indistinct we will show it. They noticed the following. I will now talk in Arabic.
"Shock and awe" and US weaponry
Al-Sahhaf, in Arabic The thing that the fighters of the Arab Socialist Ba'th Party and the masses observed - I am repeating this to you because they are now the ones fighting the louts of colonialism. Therefore, their experience and what the Ba'thists say is very accurate. They observed the following. The forces of the American colonialism began to drop containers that produce a sound explosion, a very huge sound.
I remind you that they said that their strategy is based on shock and awe. Those failed ones manufactured a type of container that has an explosive substance, which they drop. They cause a very huge explosion in terms of the sound, as if the universe was shaken. After a while, you go out and you don't find anything. You find some nails, screws, pieces of metal, but the important thing here is the sound.
Those failed ones think that through the huge sound explosion, people would be shocked and consequently would collapse and be defeated. What happened? The contrary. The fighters of the Arab Socialist Ba'th Party, the masses of our people, and the heroic sons of the Iraqi tribes discovered this game. They will turn it against the American louts so as to shock them. Wait for surprises, God willing, to see how the US game will fail - the game of the strategy of shock and awe.
"No one received them with roses"
I told you yesterday that the shock has backfired on them. Indeed, they are shocked because of what they have seen. No one received them with roses. They were received with bombs, shoes and bullets. Now, the game has been exposed. Awe will backfire on them. This is the boa snake. We will extend it further and cut it in the appropriate way. I wanted to announce this type of bomb, which they have started to use intensively, to you. It turned out that they are containers. This is our explanation. It serves this miserable game.
I have a brief comment here. It seems that the British Prime Minister Tony Blair said yesterday at the House of Commons that he expects a decisive battle. I assure him that this is true. It will be a decisive battle after which this stupid person will begin to ask: Where are the bodies of the dead British soldiers? Certainly, it will be decided, but against them.
Regarding the casualty toll for yesterday, I told you regarding the air bombardment, throughout yesterday, they attacked residential areas in Baghdad, which are the areas of the seven palaces in particular. In Maysan, they also bombed a residential quarter; three people were wounded. In Ninawa, they bombed residential quarters; nine people were wounded and one person was martyred. In Al-Najaf, air bombardment and battles; 29 were wounded and six people were martyred. In Al-Anbar, Al-Qa'im, Al-Walid and Al-Rutbah, also bombing of civilians. We have 50 wounded people. This is the casualty toll for yesterday.
Al-Sahhaf, in English, transcribed from English The casualties because of the stupid bombardment for yesterday evening and tonight. In Baghdad, four wounded and one martyred. In Maysan, three wounded. In Ninawa, nine wounded and one martyred. In Al-Najaf, 29 wounded and six martyred. In Al-Anbar, 50 wounded and eight martyrs. Thank you very much.
Battle for Baghdad
Correspondent Do you expect the hard battle to be in Baghdad? Apparently, the American forces are avoiding entering the cities.
Al-Sahhaf The decisive battle is throughout Iraq. They do not know in what mud they are wading.
Correspondent, in English Can you give us the casualties from the beginning of the war among the civilian population?
Al-Sahhaf, in English It is not ready now, but we can have it later.
Correspondent, in English Can we speak of thousands dead and hundreds of injured?
Al-Sahhaf, in English No, you can't. We don't know. We have to collect information.
Correspondent You spoke about the strugglers of the Arab Socialist Ba'th Party and the masses of the people, but you did not talk about the units of the Iraqi army. Please brief us on this.
Al-Sahhaf The military spokesman is here and he will do that.
Correspondent There is information that the Fourth Mechanized Division will come to the region from one of the Arab countries.
Al-Sahhaf What Fourth Mechanized Division? You mean the British or the American division?
Correspondent Yes. Do you have information about this?
Al-Sahhaf As far as I know, there is information that it will move and from which country, but I cannot say now. Some people are trying to be smart, but the truth is that they are not.
Correspondent, in English President Saddam Husayn spoke yesterday about British and American forces going down a trap to a dead end. Do you think that the British and American forces are bogged down inside Iraq? Having begun this war, Tony Blair said words indistinct .
Al-Sahhaf, in English Well, if they have any prudence, they should leave. Otherwise, what you have heard from the Iraqi side is the truth. I think they have deceived, as Deputy Premier Tariq Aziz has stated clearly, that they deceived, they cheated their public opinion. They really created this kind of illusion. Unless they started seeing the facts, this is a catastrophe for them. It is a catastrophe to their nations and to the world. It seems to me that this is the situation.
"Atmosphere within the leadership"
Correspondent, in English Can you describe the atmosphere within the leadership of Iraq?
Al-Sahhaf, in English We are always confident. Our leadership is really confident because we are defending our country and we are aggressing against nobody. The others are aggressing against us. We are in our country and we will defend our country in the best way. Thank you very much.
Copyright Al Jazeera TV BBC Monitoring, 2003. For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .