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Tuesday, 30 October, 2001, 20:57 GMT
Iraq condemns US 'aggression'
Iraqi women and children protesters against the US in Baghdad
Iraqis fear they may be targeted by a new US bombing campaign
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has accused the United States of plunging the world into an "abyss" and said Washington's "aggression" in Afghanistan must be stopped.

The Iraqi leader's warning came in an open letter to the West - his third since the 11 September terror attacks.

He said the "abyss" into which the United States was pushing the international community would soon be "filled with blood and tragedies" if the bombing continued.

"The world now needs to abort the aggressive US schemes, including its aggression on the Afghan people, which must stop. It must not allow the US to be victorious," he said.

President Hussein added that the US had not looked closely enough into the reasons behind the 11 September attacks. He blamed US foreign policy - including what many Arabs see as a bias towards Israel - for the tragedies.

Chemical weapons

He also dismissed US reports linking the anthrax attacks on US Government and media buildings in the past few weeks to Iraq.

Saddam Hussein
US officials suspect Saddam Hussein may be linked to terror groups
"It goes without saying that the West, including the United States, are the ones who first built weapons of mass destruction including nuclear, biological and chemical weapons," he said.

President Hussein also said that Iraq would be willing to sign a global "binding agreement" to destroy chemical weapons.

US officials say that since the withdrawal of UN observers from Iraq in 1998 the country has resumed production of chemical weapons.

Both Iraq and Russia are known to have produced weapons-grade anthrax . However, US sources say there is still no clear link between Iraq and the US biological attacks.

Attacks fear

Also on Tuesday, the Iraqi newspaper Babil, owned by President Hussein's son Odai, said it feared attacks on Iraq by the end of the year. It said "Bush the son" would attempt to complete the unfinished business left by his father - a reference to the Gulf War in 1991.

"The Americans will direct their attention towards Iraq and launch a new attack on it. This could be in the month of Ramadan," it said.

US and British officials have not confirmed any plans to attack Iraq. But they have indicated that there may be strikes against any countries suspected of involvement in the September attacks.

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz told the UK's Sunday Telegraph newspaper that such an attack would inflame Arab opinion and cause the US-led coalition to fall apart.

See also:

25 Oct 01 | Middle East
Iraqis ponder Afghan conflict
20 Oct 01 | Middle East
Saddam's surprise message
11 Oct 01 | UK Politics
Straw denies split with US over Iraq
06 Oct 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Testing the mood in Iraq
27 Sep 01 | Middle East
Iraq urges US restraint
12 Sep 01 | Middle East
Iraq hails attack on US
18 Sep 01 | Media reports
Saddam tells West 'be wise'
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