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5/5/03 - COMBAT OPERATIONS END IN IRAQ - 2003-05-06

Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. Now, said President George W. Bush, the U.S.-led coalition “is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country”:

“In the images of falling statues, we have witnessed the arrival of a new era.... In the images of celebrating Iraqis, we have also seen the ageless appeal of human freedom. Decades of lies and intimidation could not make the Iraqi people love their oppressors or desire their own enslavement.... Everywhere that freedom arrives, humanity rejoices; and everywhere that freedom stirs, let tyrants fear.”

Order is being brought to parts of Iraq that remain dangerous. Leaders of the Saddam Hussein regime are being pursued and will be held to account for their crimes. Mr. Bush said that the coalition “will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people”:

“The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. Then we will leave, and we will leave behind a free Iraq.”

The liberation of Iraq is an important advance in the global war against terrorism. As President Bush said, the coalition has “removed an ally of al-Qaida, and cut off a source of terrorist funding”:

“This much is certain: No terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime, because the regime [of Saddam Hussein] is no more.”

Anyone who supports terrorists is just as culpable as the terrorists themselves. The campaign against the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein makes clear, as President Bush put it, that “Any outlaw regime that has ties to terrorist groups and seeks or possesses weapons of mass destruction is a grave danger to the civilized world -- and will be confronted.”