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3/22/03 - LAST CHANCE FOR IRAQ'S MILITARY - 2003-03-24


U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld gave some advice to Iraqi soldiers and the officers who command them:

"Military units that want to live and act with honor should listen to coalition radio broadcasts to receive instructions as to how you may demonstrate that you do not intend to fight. You will have a place in a free Iraq if you do the right thing. But if you follow Saddam Hussein's order, you will share his fate. And the choice is yours."

Mr. Rumsefeld spoke at the outset of a campaign by a U.S. - led coalition to free the people of Iraq from Saddam Hussein and spare the world the threat of his weapons of mass destruction. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said that coalition forces are targeting the Iraqi leadership and military assets. To those who choose to fight for the doomed regime, Mr. Rumsfeld issued this warning.

"If Saddam Hussein or his generals issue orders to use weapons of mass destruction, whether on coalition forces, free Iraqi forces, neighboring countries or innocent Iraqi civilians, as they have done before, those orders should not be followed. Do not follow orders to destroy dams or flood villages. Do not follow orders to destroy your country's oil, which is the Iraqi people's. . . . Those who follow orders to commit such crimes will be found and punished. War crimes will be prosecuted, and it will be no excuse to say, 'I was just following orders.' "

The U.S. and its coalition allies are taking every precaution to avoid harming Iraqi civilians or damaging civilian property. Iraq's military can bring the conflict to a swift and honorable conclusion by refusing to fight for Saddam Hussein.

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