This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Iraq's foreign minister confidently predicted Monday that Iraqi forces would defeat American and British forces and said only surrender would save coalition troops from the "holocaust" the Iraqi people are preparing for them.
"Every day that passes the United States and Britain are sinking deeper in the mud of defeat. ... Those two states have no choice but to withdraw early and fast, today before tomorrow," Naji Sabri told reporters.
"We shall annihilate these forces and the only ones who will be spared are the ones who surrender on the battlefield," he said.
As he spoke in a news conference at the Iraqi Information Ministry in Baghdad, a building which was again hit in strikes early Monday, a new air raid was reported in the Iraqi capital.
Around midafternoon, a low-flying aircraft could be heard over central Baghdad and the sound of two explosions followed. The target was a site on the west bank of the Tigris River. Moments later, a huge cloud of white smoke rose from the spot. The area houses many government departments, presidential compounds and other sensitive sites.
Earlier Monday, an armada of B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers struck communication and command centers in Baghdad. The U.S. Central Command said it was the first time in history that long-range B-1s, B-2s and B-52s had carried out simultaneous attacks on the same location.
Cruise missiles set the Information Ministry ablaze in the second such attack on the building in two days. The fire, yards away from a shopping mall named for Saddam Hussein's birthday, was put out after a half-hour.
The 10-story building remained standing. Windows were gone and the outside walls sustained some damage. Witnesses said the interior, especially on the top floors, was severely damaged.
The coalition also bombed a telephone exchange in Baghdad, in the Bab al-Moazim district. The three-story building was heavily damaged, with sections of wall gone, revealing mangled metal and destroyed office furniture and computers. The exchange, which served 25,000 subscribers, was hit in the 1991 Gulf War and rebuilt.
Next door, a 10-story building housing the Baghdad Municipality administration appeared to be unscathed, with even its windows still in place.
Recorded calls of "God is great" from mosque minarets alerted the people of Baghdad to another night of bombings late Sunday, followed by a huge explosion and then the streaks of anti-aircraft tracers across the sky.
In the past few nights, the mosque loudspeakers have been used as air-raid sirens, with the all-clear signaled by another minaret announcement: "God is great, they are gone."
Coalition bombardments have focused in recent days on Republican Guard units protecting the approaches to Baghdad, in an attempt to wear down Saddam's best-trained forces ahead of a U.S.-led ground assault on the capital.
With coalition forces closing in on Baghdad, Sabri claimed the Americans and the British had already suffered hundreds of dead or wounded "while others were taken prisoners or fled." He refused to give a number for U.S. or British prisoners held by Iraq.
U.S. military officials say seven U.S. soldiers have been captured. No British prisoners have been reported missing.
"We are determined to inflict the biggest possible number of losses among them and expel them outside our borders. Victory is near," Sabri said.
He also said more than 5,000 Arab volunteers were in Iraq training for "martyrdom attacks."
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)