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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Iraqi Information Minister Makes a Statement

Aired March 20, 2003 - 05:50   ET

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

MOHAMMED AL-SAHAF, IRAQI INFORMATION MINISTER: They said they hit Baghdad with 40 cruise missiles. Why? They claim that their target was the leader, President Saddam Hussein. The rulers of the United States now become daring. Through the media they declare, they admit themselves that they are assassins, they're a gang out to kill other people. But they failed. And the response was that statement by His Excellency, President Saddam Hussein, this morning to the peace loving people in the whole world so to show the world look what's happening. A leader of a country who is fighting on the side of good against evil. Evil perpetrated by people who believe in assassination.
Therefore I think George Bush and the prime minister of Britain should be targeted by their own people. They are cowards.

Thank you and I will take questions now.

(QUESTION)

AL-SAHAF: It depends on the development anything that could show up this gang of criminals, we will do anything to show them for what they are, this gang, international gang. We are the international community. These lies must be dropped once and for all. There is, this is a gang of the outcasts. They are not the international community. The international community is 191 countries, not these regimes in Washington and London, these despicable regimes in Washington and London.

(QUESTION)

AL-SAHAF: I've told you before and I'll tell you again, that once they are there and committed, their aggression we will turn Iraq into hell. Every centimeter of Iraq will be a living hell.

(QUESTION)

AL-SAHAF: ... and the casualties is one month...

(QUESTION)

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We wanted to bring you that live coverage there courtesy of Al Jazeera TV there of Mohammed al-Sahaf, who is the Iraqi information minister, coming out with expected bellicose and belligerent and defiant words of their own, this in the wake of the strikes that have been aimed at the leadership there within Iraq and also the response that we've seen from Iraq, missiles being fired back into Kuwait. Also, we heard him say that he believes that President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair should be targeted.

Well, right now let's go to our Walter Rodgers.

Walt is embedded out there with the Seventh Cavalry unit.

Let's check in with him and see what's he's been hearing and seeing of late.

The last time we talked with him he was, there was an alert going out and they were all donning masks and preparing to don suits, as well.

Now we have Walt on the video phone -- hello, Walter.

WALTER RODGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Leon.

Actually, it was a little more than an alert. U.S. forces were fired upon by the Iraqis. It is not clear whether the missile which was fired in the direction of U.S. forces had a conventional or an unconventional warhead, but just a little over an hour ago I heard three loud explosions not too far over what's my left shoulder. It turns out to be -- well, I'd better not tell you how many miles it was.

But anyway, there were three explosions over there and then suddenly our captain here in the Seventh U.S. Calvary comes out and tells us everybody get into your vehicles, we're being fired upon. And he said that get into your mach four chemical suits, which is to say we put on full chemical suit -- boots, trousers, jackets, gas masks and gloves. And we were told to get inside our vehicles and lay low there.

Now, that was not a test under any sense, in any sense of the word. U.S. forces were launched against by the Iraqis. I can tell you here in the Seventh Cavalry nothing fell very close to this unit and, in fact, all the soldiers in this particular unit are safe, at least to the best of our knowledge. As I say, nothing fell close here, so we can almost say categorically no one in this area was injured -- Leon.

HARRIS: All right, good deal.

Thank you, Walter.

Let's hope it stays that way, as well.

Walter Rodgers reporting live there from the Seventh Cavalry's location out there in the desert.

Let's go back to that press conference that was under way that we were listening into moments ago there with the Iraqi information minister.

AL-SAHAF: ... every peace loving person and government around the world, not those gangsters who believe in assassination and aggression against other people.

QUESTION: Is it true that you shelled Kuwait as a response?

AL-SAHAF: I heard that a SCUD missile was hit, but we don't have SCUD missiles. So I have no idea.

QUESTION: What is the Arab position that is required by Iraq?

AL-SAHAF: I don't have a comment. I say all Arabs are with Iraq and this is a great honor.

(QUESTION)

AL-SAHAF: I am against anything that is called peaceful solution. What we have here is naked aggression and everyone is asked to speak and stand against aggression. Therefore we have to be careful not to use terms and words that do not apply to the situation. The fact is Iraq is committed and met the Security Council resolutions but the villains, George Bush the father and the son, they're both villains, have been hell bent on invading Iraq. They tried in '91 and they're trying now. Therefore the right position is to stand against war and to break this gang of villains.

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