US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has rejected the idea of a cease fire in Iraq.
Replying to questions at the Senate Appropriations Committee about calls that may be made by France or other UN members for a ceasefire, Rumsfeld said: "At some point the war will end. And it will end at that point where that regime does not exist. At that point there will be something of a ceasefire."
Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force General Richard Myers, who was testifying with him, predicted that the toughest fighting lies ahead with Iraq's battle-hardened Republican Guard entrenched between American forces and Baghdad.
"It could take some time," Rumsfeld said about the battle for Baghdad. Now the Republican Guard are in deployed positions--in revetments--and they will get degraded from the air and then attacked by coalition forces."
General Myers said that the heavily armed US Apache helicopters and attack jets are striking at the Guards. "At some point, at a time of our choosing, we will engage them," he said, adding "We'll see what kind of fight they have."
Both Rumsfeld and Myers said that they could not predict when the war would end. However, they claimed that the war is going "according to plan."
"How this conflict will play out I can't know," said Rumsfeld. "I don't know anyone on the fact of the Earth who can know. The regime of Saddam Hussein will be removed. The only thing that remains unclear is precisely how long it will take."