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U.S. like Al Capone, says Iraq

Interior Minister Mahmud Dhiyab al Ahmad waves rifle during news conference at Ministry of Information
Interior Minister Mahmud Dhiyab al Ahmad waves rifle during news conference at Ministry of Information

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S.-led coalition is behaving like Al Capone, aiming at civilian targets and the houses of Saddam Hussein and his family, an Iraqi government spokesman has said.

But the Iraqi president and his family are safe, information minister Muhammed Saaed Sahaf said on Friday.

Sahaf apparently was referring to the "decapitation" strike in Baghdad, the first blow in the war against Saddam's regime on Thursday morning when the capital was hit by missiles.

"They targeted the residence of the family of Saddam Hussein. God had protected them. They targeted the houses of his family. But they are safe. They are safe," Sahaf said.

"This is a complete disgrace. They are a superpower of villains. They are a superpower of Al Capone," he said, referring to the notorious 1920s Chicago mobster.

Al Sahaf responded in what was the first official Iraqi response to the invasion launched earlier Friday by U.S. and British forces.

He said the people described as surrendering Iraqi soldiers on news footage are not, in fact, part of the country's armed forces. He also said that "we have destroyed two of their helicopters."

"These guys are not from the Iraqi army," Al Sahaf said. "These are not Iraqi soldiers. They are not members of any of the Iraqi armed forces."

Pointing to mounted photos of civilian casualties, he said: "This is the way they are operating," adding that the civilians were the "real targets of the villains in Washington and London."

Earlier Friday, a U.S. flag flew over the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr after U.S. Marines took control having met light resistance from Iraqi troops, according to a Reuters correspondent embedded with the troops. But the journalist said the old port, about a mile away, was still in Iraqi hands.

However, al Sahaf said Umm Qasr was "completely in our hands," adding: "They failed to capture it."

Iraqi Interior Minister Mahmud Dhiyab al Ahmad, holding a firearm, said Umm Qasr would "resist." He added: "We will say this will be a fight."


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