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Bush calls 'Iraq fighting' fierce

The US President said fighting in Iraq is "fierce" but that Saddam Hussein's regime now controls only "a small portion" of the country.

world Updated: Mar 29, 2003 14:51 IST

President George W Bush said on Saturday fighting in Iraq is "fierce" but that President Saddam Hussein's regime now controls only "a small portion" of the country.

"We are now fighting the most desperate units of the dictator's army. The fighting is fierce and we do not know its duration, yet we know the outcome of this battle: the Iraqi regime will be disarmed and removed from power. Iraq will be free," Bush said in his weekly radio address.

"Thanks to our fighting forces, the regime that once terrorised all of Iraq now controls a small portion of that country. American and coalition troops have continued a steady advance, and are now less than75 kilometre from Baghdad," he said.

The US-led offensive has "prevented the dictator from launching missiles from key sites in western Iraq," he added.

He went on to describe alleged atrocities attributed to the Iraqi regime, calling them war crimes.

"Given the nature of this regime, we expect such war crimes, but we will not excuse them. War criminals will be hunted relentlessly and judged severely," he warned.

US and British forces are delivering food and water to "grateful Iraqi citizens" in Safwan and Umm Qasr, he said.

The allies will accept only "complete and final victory," Bush said, urging Congress to act quickly on his request, presented Tuesday, for $75 billionto finance the war.