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Bush: Combat Operations Over in Iraq - 2003-05-02


President Bush says most of the fighting in Iraq is over and the U.S. led coalition there is now beginning the difficult job of rebuilding the country. Mr. Bush gave a nationwide address Thursday from the deck of an aircraft carrier returning from the war in Iraq.

In the battle of Iraq, President Bush says the United States and its allies have prevailed. With major combat operations now finished, Mr. Bush spoke of the challenges ahead.

President Bush said,"We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We are bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We are pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes."

The president says U.S. forces are searching for weapons of mass destruction, which was one of the reasons he gave for invading Iraq. He says the fall of Saddam Hussein has made the United States and its allies safer because he says the Iraqi leader was helping terrorists acquire chemical and biological weapons.

Mr. Bush continues,"The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We have removed an ally of al-Qaida and cut off a source of terrorist funding. And this much is certain: no terrorist network will gain weapons of mass destruction from the Iraqi regime because the regime is no more."

The president again sought to link the war in Iraq with the broader fight against terrorism which started following the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.

"The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11th 2001 and still goes on. That terrible morning, nineteen evil men, the shock-troops of a hateful ideology, gave America and the civilized world a glimpse of their ambitions",President added.

In that attack, Mr. Bush says the terrorists declared war on the United States. And war, he says, is what they got.

In Iraq, the president says the transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time but is "worth every effort." He says the U.S. led coalition will stay until its work is done and leave behind a free Iraq.

Mr. Bush said,"We are helping to rebuild Iraq where the dictator built palaces for himself instead of hospitals and schools. And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people."

The wording of his speech aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln did not declare a formal end to the war, which, under the Geneva Convention, would compel the United States to release prisoners of war and stop targeting specific leaders.

U.S. troops have already released some prisoners of war, but they are still searching for many members of the former government, including Saddam Hussein.

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