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Iraq Claims Coalition Forces Killed Dozens of Civilians

Iraq Claims Coalition Forces Killed Dozens of Civilians

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Iraq claimed Friday that coalition forces attacked civilian areas throughout Iraq and had killed 75 and injured 290, while Iraqi forces killed four U.S. soldiers near the southern city of Najaf.

Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf said the casualty figures were for action Thursday. He also told reporters in Baghdad that coalition leaders should be tried for war crimes for their repeated attacks on public buildings.

"The Americans and the British have repeated that they target government buildings-- like there aren't humans in government buildings ... as if government buildings have no link to civilians," he said.

The minister also denounced speculation that the Iraqi forces would use chemical weapons -- speculation that arose after advancing coalition forces found chemical weapons suits and gas masks left behind by soldiers in retreat.

He said having such equipment was standard procedure for any army, including those of Britain and the United States.

He argued that coalition troops may use such weapons in desperation.

"We do not rule out that the American and British aggressors, as a result of strong frustration and defeat because of the great resistance that is increasing day by day ... that they will become hysterical," he said. "They possess all kinds of weapons of mass destruction. It is possible they will commit a lot of follies."

Sahhaf said Iraqi forces struck and destroyed or damaged 33 American or British vehicles, including 12 battle tanks and the vehicle of the commander of the convoy. He said four soldiers died in the convoy attack near Najaf.

One tank hit by an rocket-propelled grenade fired by a peasant. Another peasant shot down a helicopter, he said.

Sahhaf described Richard Perle's resignation as chairman of the Pentagon advisory group as an indication of divisions and disputes among U.S. military planners. Perle, 61, had been a vocal advocate of going to war against Iraq.

Sahhaf called Perle as "Zionist donkey."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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