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Purported Saddam statement read on Iraqi TV

Urges commanders to maintain discipline

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in an image taken from a video shown on Iraqi TV Thursday.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A statement read on Iraqi TV and attributed to President Saddam Hussein Thursday called for Iraqi military commanders to maintain troop discipline and resolve, saying that those who can't keep up the battle must step aside for other leaders.

Military commanders "need to keep their high morale because that reflects on their troops and "those who cannot fight need to leave and let others command," the statement said.

The statement was read by an Iraqi TV news anchor over video of Saddam sitting comfortably on a couch in a room with top aides and ministers, including Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan and Defense Minister Sultan Hashim Ahmed, as well as Baath Party officials. There was no way to determine if the video is recent.

"You have to be faithful to the promise you made," the statement said Saddam told the Baath Party officials. "The enemy wants to invade your sacred land. Now it is your turn to show your true faith and loyalty."

"This is a test of principles, said the statement, pointing out that the nation needs to come out of its "700 years" of dormancy.

The statement didn't elaborate, but it could have been a reference to the sacking of Baghdad in 1258 by the Mongols, an event that put an end to the Abbasid Empire caliphate.

"When our country is at danger, we need to stand up and fight. We need not to wait for them to attack first, we need to exhaust them," the statement said.


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