Iraq Officially Threatens
Israel If US Attacks
Special to World
Middle East Newsline

NICOSIA - For the first time, Iraq has specifically threatened Israel with retaliation for any U.S.-led campaign against the regime of President Saddam Hussein.
A senior Iraqi diplomat said Saddam has seven million combatants called the Quds Army. The diplomat said Iraq would "swallow Israel up" if his country is attacked.
"The Palestinian cause and liberation of Jerusalem as well as campaign against Israel is a fundamental issue for Iraq, just like many other Islamic states," Iraqi charge d'affaires in Teheran Abdul Sattar Izzeddin Rawi said. The warning came hours after Iraqi President Saddam Hussein convened his defense chiefs on late Sunday. The Iraqi News Agency said the meeting focused on Iraqi preparations for any U.S.-led war against Baghdad.
Last week, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri suggested that Iraq would target Israel. But Sabri did not mention Israel by name. On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz said Iraq is prepared for a ground war should the United States attack but did not threaten Israel.
At the same time, Rawi told the official Iranian news agency IRNA that Saddam has sent three messages to the United States and its European allies. The messages warned against any attack on Baghdad.
The diplomat said Kurds in northern Iraq would suffer greatly if they cooperate in any U.S.-led effort to topple Saddam. For a decade, the Kurds have maintained self-rule in the north.
Rawi warned that the United States would not achieve anything in an attack on Iraq. He reiterated Iraq's refusal to allow the return of United Nations weapons inspectors in his country.
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