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Saddam: Iraq will be victorious over U.S. 'criminal acts'

Saddam: "We pledge that we will confront the invaders."

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi President Saddam Hussein appeared on television early Thursday morning, characterizing the U.S.-led military campaign as "criminal acts" and saying his nation would be victorious.

"These days will go as God wills," Saddam said. "This is your share of dignity, of victory."

Saddam appeared wearing a military uniform and gave Thursday's date, March 20, as evidence that the taped speech was made shortly before it was aired and not before the U.S. attack on Baghdad. (Speech transcript)

"Draw your sword, I am not afraid," he said. "No one will be victorious if he is not a man and a brave man."

The speech came about three hours after the U.S.-led coalition launched a strike, which Pentagon officials described as a "decapitation attack" to take out the Iraqi leader.

More than 40 satellite-guided Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from U.S. warships in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, military officials said. It is very difficult to successfully target a single person on the ground in such a bombing, Pentagon officials said.

In Saddam's quick appearance on television he struck a defiant tone as he read from handwritten notes.

"We pledge that we will confront the invaders," Saddam said, adding that Iraqi resistance will cause the coalition to "lose any hope in accomplishing what they were driven to by the criminal Zionists and others with their agendas."

"They will face a bitter defeat, God willing," he continued. "You will be able to achieve glory and your despicable infidel enemies will be defeated."

Saddam urged Iraqis to rally in the cause of war.

"Draw your sword and be not afraid," he said before chanting "God is great."

He ended his speech saying, "Long live jihad and long live Palestine."

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