Iraq may use chemical weapons: US

Published on Mar 26, 2003 01:12 AM IST

US Defense Secretary said intelligence information suggested the likelihood of the use of chemical weapons if coalition forces closed in on Baghdad.

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PTI | ByReuters, Washington

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Tuesday intelligence information he received indicates Iraqi military forces may use chemical weapons against US-led invasion forces as they close in on Baghdad.

During a Pentagon briefing, Rumsfeld said he received intelligence information "that suggests that the closer the coalition forces get to Baghdad and Tikrit, the greater the likelihood (of the use of chemical weapons), and that some command and control arrangements have been put in place."

Referring to the data as "intelligence scraps" and "chatter in the system", hr said, "Who knows how accurate they are?" He did not give details on how this intelligence information was gathered or who provided it.

Meanwhile in Baghdad, President Saddam Hussein urged Iraqi tribesmen to join the battle against US and British forces, telling them how to wage a guerrilla campaign against invading troops.

A statement read out on Iraqi state television and attributed to Saddam told Iraqi tribes to "fight the enemy wherever they are" without waiting for battle orders from military commanders.

"If you cause them any damage, no matter how small, they will flee. Don't wait for our orders. Just fight them. Every one of you is a military leader."

Founded in 1995 and under the command of Saddam's elder son Uday, the fiercely loyal Saddam Fedayeen could number as many as 100,000, according to Iraqi military expert and former CIA analyst Kenneth Pollack.

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