[This story was updated on 04.04.03 at 5:27 p.m. ET.]
In another one of several TV appearances Saddam Hussein has made since Operation Iraqi Freedom began March 19, the Iraqi president made a reference to events of the conflict for the first time, suppressing the belief that he was wounded, perhaps fatally, in the first day's attack.
While a mention of the U.S. Apache helicopter that had gone down earlier in the war placed the taped message as recent, some suspicion remains that the man in the video is not Hussein but one of the body doubles he's believed to have used in the past.
On Friday (April 4), Iraqi state television aired prerecorded footage of a man purported to be Hussein acknowledging a farmer whom Iraqi officials credit for the shooting down of the Apache. He also urged Iraqis to fight the U.S and British troops "with what you have available," according to CNN. He then contradicted most other news reports by saying only a few coalition troops have passed Iraqi soldiers around the capital of Baghdad. (Click for map of the battlefield)
Most reports have previously confirmed that U.S. troops had devastated at least two divisions of Iraq's elite Republican Guard (see "What Is The Republican Guard?") and were as close as six miles to Baghdad.
This was the second televised appearance for Hussein Friday. Arabic news network al Jazeera, among others, broadcast a tape of Hussein walking down a Baghdad street, smiling and greeting cheering citizens.
Also Friday, Iraq's Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf warned that U.S. forces will "face something that is not conventional" that night, furthering fears that as troops approach the capital, the more likely Hussein's regime is to use chemical or biological weapons.
However, Sahaf claimed Iraq would not use weapons of mass destruction. Instead, martyrs, those who sacrifice their lives for their cause, would be used.
South of Baghdad, U.S. troops discovered stocks of an unidentified white powder, a nerve gas antidote and texts detailing how to conduct a chemical attack at an
industrial facility south of Baghdad.
A top Pentagon official said the facility was a training base for
Iraqi troops, not a location where chemical or biological agents were stored
in large quantities. And he stopped short of saying it represented evidence
that Iraq possesses such weapons.
"Our conclusion at this point is that it wasn't a WMD site," Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks said during his afternoon briefing with reporters at
Central Command in Qatar, using the short-hand term for weapons of mass
A short time later, troops in another location south of Baghdad made a
similar discovery, according to Reuters. Further details about what exactly
they found were unavailable at press time.
While the U.S. has yet to uncover large quantities of chemical or biological
agents, Brooks said that the American-led incursion into Iraq has yielded
substantial evidence that the Iraqi regime was violating United Nations
resolutions. President Bush and others justified the current action in Iraq
on the basis that the country's regime poses a threat to global security due
to its possession of weapons prohibited by the U.N.
Brooks said the U.S. has evidence that Iraq has fired missiles with longer
range than was permitted under U.N. rules. He said the Iraqi regime has
used the U.N.'s oil-for-food program to acquire the nerve gas antidote
atropine, which also violated U.N. resolutions.
Brooks expressed confidence that U.S. forces will eventually find stocks of
chemical or biological agents. But he said the first priority was to secure
Iraq for its citizens.
"As time goes on, they will lead us to where the weapons of mass destruction
are located," he said.
Northwest of Baghdad, three American Special Forces troops and two
Iraqi civilians, including a pregnant woman, were killed in an apparent
suicide car bombing at a checkpoint near the Haditha Dam.
The pregnant woman reportedly screamed in distress from the car, prompting
three U.S. Special Forces troops to approach. A moment later the vehicle
was detonated and all five, including the driver, were killed.
Just south of Baghdad, members of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division have for
all intents and purposes secured Saddam International Airport, which they
have renamed "Baghdad International Airport." Sporadic fighting continued
between troops and informal bands of Iraqi forces. American troops were
also in the process of securing a series of cellars and tunnels under the
Explosions lit up a blacked-out Baghdad early Friday local time as U.S.
ground troops moved closer to sections of the Iraqi capital. Power is out in
a large portion of the city, the first widespread power outage to hit the
city since Operation Iraqi Freedom began. Central Command said
the power grid was not among the targets of bombing raids.
Other recent key developments:
Division, which U.S. officials say no longer exists as an effective fighting force.
of coalition troops through Iraq. The edict constituted a key endorsement
of the U.S. presence, Pentagon officials said.
Iraqi rifles, which they later destroyed by rolling over them with armored
before the beginning of the war to provide advice on how to fight coalition
forces, according to Russian news Web site www.gazeta.ru. One of the
officials in question was contacted for the story and did not deny the
meetings with European leaders gathered in Brussels on Thursday. By the end of
the day, the U.S. and its NATO allies appeared to reach a broad agreement
that the United Nations should have a hand in governing post-war Iraq.
softening his stance toward the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Schroeder, a staunch
opponent of the war before the hostilities began, now says he hopes
coalition forces win a speedy victory. He also indicated that Germany would
consider sending peacekeeping forces to a post-war Iraq.
Marines killed in Iraq, President Bush vowed, "We will accept nothing less
than complete and final victory. The course is set. We're on the advance.
Our destination is Baghdad."
troops dead, 22 Americans missing. Five hundred Iraqis dead, 8,000 taken prisoner.
Iraqi officials claim the civilian death toll alone is more than 1,250 and
more than 5,000 have been injured.
— Joe D'Angelo, Corey Moss and Ethan Zindler
For the very latest developments on the war in Iraq, check out CBSNews.com.