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Myers: Saddam losing control

Rumsfeld and Myers talk to reporters at the Pentagon.
Rumsfeld and Myers talk to reporters at the Pentagon.

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The Pentagon continues to battle the perception that it failed to anticipate how long or difficult the war in Iraq might be. CNN's Jamie McIntyre reports (March 28)
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's regime has lost control of more than one-third of his country, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Friday.

Displaying a map of Iraq, Gen. Richard Myers outlined for reporters at a Pentagon briefing the areas he said Saddam no longer controls.

"The slide on the screen shows the now approximately 35 to 40 percent of Iraq, Iraqi territory where Saddam's regime has lost control," Myers said.

President Bush, speaking later to some veterans gathered at the White House, gave what appeared to be a more optimistic assessment of how much territory Saddam had lost, but he did not offer specifics.

"The regime that once terrorized all of Iraq now controls a small portion of that country," he said. "Coalition troops continue their steady advance and are drawing near to Baghdad."

At the same time, Bush warned the American public that "further sacrifice" by coalition forces might be necessary.

Myers, appearing with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, said the war plan was "on track" and dismissed suggestions that fierce fighting from Iraqi forces or bad weather had thrown things off schedule.

He said coalition forces have fired more than 650 Tomahawk missiles and dropped more than 5,000 precision-guided munitions since the start of the war.

"Overall, our plans are on track," he said. We are degrading Iraqi forces, particularly the Republican Guard."

But, he said at another point: "The tough part is yet ahead of us."

The atrocities and threats committed against Iraqi civilians by supporters of the Iraqi regime are a sign of desperation and weakness, Rumsfeld said.

He urged the Iraqi people to try to remember the names and faces of the "death squad enforcers" who report directly to the family of Saddam Hussein, saying their day of judgment will come.


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