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Blair: Saddam's army has collapsed

Blair
Blair was updating British MPs on developments in Iraq.

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair says that Saddam Hussein's army has collapsed, and many of those still fighting against U.S. and British forces are from outside Iraq.

"In essence, all over Iraq, Saddam's forces have collapsed. Much of the remaining fighting, particularly in Baghdad, is being carried out by foreign irregular forces," Blair said in a statement to parliament Monday.

He said U.S. troops were in control of most of Baghdad's capital, but not yet all of it. (Tense capital)

The south of the country was largely under British control, he added.

Blair said there would be three phases to the reconstruction of Iraq with the coalition and office for reconstruction initially taking charge.

Blair promised "to make the peace worth the war" by rebuilding a democratic Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam.

Iraqis "don't need to be run from the outside by the U.S., the UK or the U.N., and they won't be," Blair said.

Of 146 sites known to possibly house weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, investigations have begun at seven, Blair said.

Progress in finding such weapons is "bound to be slow," he said. For six months before U.N. weapons inspectors returned to Iraq late last year, Saddam Hussein put a system into place to conceal the banned weapons, he said.

Specialized teams of coalition forces are beginning work to try to find them, he added.

"It will be through human intelligence" that the teams get the necessary information, he said. "Through the experts and scientists talking about these programs. ... They know they can now safely do so."

Asked whether he is still convinced Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, Blair responded: "I have absolutely no doubt at all that they exist."


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