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Saddam urges battle for every road

U.S. doubts remain over when Saddam's TV broadcast on Tuesday was taped.
U.S. doubts remain over when Saddam's TV broadcast on Tuesday was taped.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi President Saddam Hussein Tuesday exhorted Arab tribesmen and clans throughout the country to join the fight against the U.S.-led coalition.

In a statement attributed to Saddam broadcast on Iraqi TV, the Iraqi leader asked tribesman to surprise and damage coalition forces "for the best of our religion." The statement was read by a broadcaster.

"They came to dishonor your land and honor," the statement said. "Today is your turn to show your pure Arab heritage, your courage fighting on every road and every land."

Saying "every man or woman is a glory symbol of jihad holding the flag of God," Saddam urged the tribes to "hit them back and front so they stumble and lose control so they fall to your fire."

"If they hide anywhere, attack them day and night," he said. "Fighting them like your brothers in Battalions 11 and 45, the heroes, like in Faw, an Anbar and Basra, Tigris, Qadissiyah everywhere."

Referring to the many who follow the Shiite brand of Islam, Saddam said "no one doubts your Arabism." Saddam, a Sunni Muslim, has persecuted Shiites, many of whom have opposed his rule.

"Remember the sword of your great-grandfather Ali," in reference to the man who is regarded by the Shiites as their historical religious authority.

The message concludes: "God is great, Saddam Hussein."

Despite Tuesday's announcement however, it remains unclear if Saddam is alive or dead after Thursday's strikes on a compound where, U.S. intelligence officials believe, he was in at the time.

Officials said they were looking "very skeptically" at a tape of the president broadcast Monday on Iraqi television, with one official saying "he said nothing to prove it could not have been taped earlier." (Saddam fate uncertain)

In another development, Iraqi-based Ayatollah Ali Sastani, a top Shiite authority, issued an edict Tuesday on the conflict.

He urged the Iraqis to defend their religion, country and holy sites, said that the aggression is a personal vendetta and an evil on a sacred land, and called on people not to squander private property during the war.

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