Iraq's army will not surrender, President Saddam Hussein said on Friday vowing to fight the United States as an invasion force moved north from Kuwait.
"The Iraqi people and their armed forces are ready to resist any attack," Saddam said, quoted by state television, despite "US-British enemy propaganda to weaken their morale."
"A curse on anyone who says the Iraqi army and people would joyfully welcome your aggressiveness and the forces under your orders and rejoice," he told US and British leaders in the statement read out on his behalf.
The Iraq strongman was referring to US efforts to persuade ordinary Iraqi soldiers in particular not to resist the invaders.
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed yesterday to have proof that many Iraqi soldiers would defect.
He pledged military action of unprecedented scale against Iraq, but said it could be limited if Iraqi forces defect and surrender in large numbers.
A US marine officer reported that 25 Iraqi soldiers had surrendered to American troops as they entered Iraq last night.