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Rumsfeld: Saddam is Losing; Reacts to Chemical Finds

Rumsfeld: Saddam is Losing; Reacts to Chemical Finds

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Monday that while Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's whereabouts may not be known, "we do know he no longer runs much of Iraq."

"The circle is closing, their options are running out," Rumsfeld said of Saddam and his top lieutenants.

Looking beyond Saddam, Rumsfeld said that planning is under way to turn over to Iraqis control of several government ministries other than defense and intelligence.

"It's pretty well sorted through," Rumsfeld told a Pentagon briefing.

U.S. officials envision turning over administration of Iraq to an interim Iraqi government at some point, leading to eventual elections. Rumsfeld cautioned against news accounts suggesting that the presence of chemical weapons had been confirmed. "Almost all first reports we get turn out to be wrong," he said.

"We don't do first reports and we don't speculate," he said.

Other defense officials said Monday that the military was testing samples from a site in Iraq where soldiers found possible chemical weapons. Testing at laboratories in the United States has to be completed before the presence of chemical weapons could be confirmed, those officials said.

Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said there were now 125,000 coalition troops inside Iraq and that all but "a couple of dozen" of the Iraqi military's tanks had been destroyed.

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

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