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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Declaring that "victory is at hand," Saddam Hussein issued a new statement urging Iraqis to fight on and defend their towns according to a broadcast Wednesday on Iraqi satellite television.
A separate decree, also attributed to Saddam, offered cash rewards to anyone who helps uncover spies assisting the U.S.-led coalition.
Saddam did not appear in person, and there was no way to verify if any of the statements actually came from the Iraqi leader. U.S. officials say they are not sure whether is he alive and well, wounded from an air strike on one of his bunkers, or dead.
The statements were issued as Baghdad again took intense bombardment Wednesday, with telephone exchanges among the targets hit.
The Al-Rasheed telephone exchange in the heart of the capital suffered major damage. The nine-story building on the east bank of the Tigris River remained standing but rather precariously since some of the support pillars on the middle floors were missing.
Al-Rasheed was targeted last week but the missile apparently missed, lodging just yards away on the road and causing only slight damage to the building.
Another telephone exchange, in the Bab al-Moazam district, was hit Wednesday for the second time this week. The building sustained severe damage the first time, and it was not clear why it was targeted again.
An "authorized source," according to state television, appealed to Iraqis on Wednesday to hand over to authorities their cellular telephones to make it easier on the government to identify "infiltrating" telephone transmissions.
The statement also appealed to "those involved in working with the enemy" to surrender such sets to authorities. Failure to do so, it warned, would leave authorities with no choice but to treat offenders as spies.
Areas under the control of the Baghdad government -- the whole of Iraq except for a Kurdish enclave in the north -- don't have a mobile telephone network, suggesting that the statement was referring to satellite mobile telephones.
Meanwhile Wednesday, a thunderous explosion was heard south of Baghdad in the early afternoon from the direction of the large al-Rasheed military barracks. Shortly afterward, three plumes of gray smoke rose from the area.
In the Iraqi leader's latest purported statement, which was read by an Iraqi news anchor in a military uniform, Saddam repeatedly called upon his people to fight and said the Iraqi armed forces have not used their full capabilities in the battle.
"Fight them so that Iraq, the bastion of religion and principles, will be secured and our (Islamic) nation will come out of this crisis glorious," the statement said. "Fight them. Victory is at hand, God willing, although we have only utilized a third or less of our army while the criminals have used everything they brought in."
"Their failure was manifested and victory is glowing, God willing," the statement said.
The statement singled out the 11th Division of the Iraqi army and Baath Party members in Nasiriyah and other southern towns who have "exhausted" the coalition forces and urged Iraqis to follow heir example in defending their cities.
The statement, which was monitored in Doha, Qatar, was different than one broadcast Tuesday night in which Saddam called for Iraqis to wage jihad or holy war against coalition forces. That statement was read by Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf.
Saddam has made two televised speeches since the war began on March 20, one in the opening hours of the fighting and another four days later.
However, in both speeches, it wasn't clear when they were recorded by the Iraqi leader, whose offices and residences have been repeatedly bombarded by missiles from U.S. ships and warplanes.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)