BAGHDAD, Iraq – The Iraqi people will defeat the United States, which wants to enslave them, Saddam Hussein told his citizens Tuesday in a letter marking the Islamic new year.
"We believe, with the coming of the Islamic new year and with God's help, we will be victorious against the tyrant," the Iraqi president said in the letter, which was read by an announcer on state-run television. "The believers will triumph over tyranny and its accomplices."
"The tyrant of this era thinks that he is an alternative to God and is His shadow on Earth," Saddam said, referring to the United States. "The tyrant imagines himself, God forbid, as God ... and thus his devil has thrown him into the abyss of evil."
"The tyrant thinks he is capable of enslaving the people and hiding the decisions, freedoms and legitimate choices [they were born with] when their mothers delivered them as free people," he continued.
"Tyranny will be defeated," the Iraqi dictator declared. "Arrogance will be of no help to it."
Despite the tough rhetoric — and the holiday — Iraq continued to destroy banned missiles to comply with a U.N. order. At least two Al Samoud 2 missiles were being crushed north of Baghdad on Tuesday, Information Ministry official Odai al-Taie said. A missile launcher was being destroyed as well, he said.
Hiro Ueki, spokesman for the inspectors who are supervising the destruction, confirmed the destruction of missiles was continuing but wouldn't give details. Since Saturday, Iraq had already destroyed 16 of about 100 Al Samoud 2 missiles.
It also has been slicing up casting chambers used to make another missile, unearthing bombs and sending scientists to talk with U.N. weapons inspectors — all in a desperate effort to prove it is disarming before a crucial U.N. report at the end of the week.
France, Russia and China urged Iraq to meet every U.N. demand in hopes of staving off war, but the United States — which might wage war even without U.N. authorization — said the actions were too little, too late.
"Iraq is not cooperating," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Monday. "Despite whatever limited head-fakes Iraq has engaged in, they continue to fundamentally not disarm."
U.S. officials said a vote on a new U.N. resolution authorizing force would likely come next week, after chief weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei address the Security Council on Friday.
The U.S.-led military mobilization entered a critical stage Monday, with B-52 bombers landing in Britain and soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division setting up camp in Kuwait.
But the Turkish government showed no signs that it would quickly ask parliament to reverse its refusal to allow in more than 60,000 U.S. troops before an Iraq war.
As U.S. generals commanding some 200,000 troops in the region declare themselves ready to attack Iraq, weapons inspectors are suddenly receiving Iraqi cooperation on issues that have dogged them for months.
Iraq met a Saturday deadline to begin destroying its Al Samoud 2 missile system, banned because its range may be slightly greater than allowed. It is slicing up banned casting chambers used to make another missile, the Al Fatah.
Workers have unearthed buried bombs they say are loaded with anthrax, aflatoxin and botulin toxin, and inspectors are analyzing the contents. Iraq is readying a letter to the United Nations that proposes verifying it has gotten rid of anthrax and deadly VX nerve agent.
Iraqi scientists who helped make missiles and chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction have begun to give private interviews to inspectors, something all but three had refused to do since December. Another scientist was interviewed on Monday, the fourth in as many days. The United Nations has asked to speak to more than 30 scientists since December.
Clearly Iraq is appealing to members of the U.N. Security Council, who are considering a draft resolution by the United States, Britain and Spain that would declare Iraq to be evading inspections, a step that would likely lead to war.
"The best time to press a point is when you have a meeting of the Security Council coming up," said Blix's deputy, Demetrius Perricos.
The United States expects a vote on its resolution "quite soon" after the chief inspectors report to the council on Friday, U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte said Monday.
"All indications are that the vote would be next week," a U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
France, Russia and China — three of the five veto-holding members of the council — all pushed for more inspections instead of war.
U.S. warplanes enforcing no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq have become much more aggressive in recent days than they usually are in their routine patrols and have begun to go beyond their traditional targets of anti-aircraft weapons.
Now, they are attacking surface-to-surface missile batteries they say are in range of U.S. troops in Kuwait or of positions U.S. troops could take up in Turkey — although the stated purpose of the no-fly zones is to protect Shiite Muslims in the south and Kurds in the north.
An Iraqi military spokesman told the official Iraqi News Agency on Monday that a U.S. airstrike Sunday night killed six civilians and wounded 15 in southern Basra province. There was no way to verify the claim.
American warplanes attacked four more military communications facilities and one air defense facility on Monday, the U.S. Central Command said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.