Saddam Warns Kurdish Leaders Against Allying with 'Invaders'

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Wednesday sternly warned Kurdish leaders against allying with the US-led coalition in its invasion of Iraq.

Saddam's warning was issued in a letter sent to Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), announced Iraqi Information Minister Mohammad Said Al-Sahaf on Iraqi television.

A copy of the letter was also sent to Massoud Mustapha Barzani, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Sahaf said.

"I advise you not to rush toward anything that you will regret, as you know that this leadership and the state leading the confrontation against the invaders are staying," Saddam said in theletter.

The PUK and KDP have enjoyed de facto autonomy in northern Iraq since the 1991 Gulf war thanks to the protection of US and British warplanes imposing a no-fly zone in their area.

Saddam expressed his anger at the Kurdish leaders for "flirting with America and the Zionists," adding that such flirting "has entered a dangerous phase now" by opening a northern front against Iraqi people and army.

"It is my moral, basic and constitutional duty to warn you of the dangers of this game, if you have surrendered to it," he said.

Saddam accused "America and the Zionists" of "attempting to divide Iraq and other countries in the region in order to weaken them."

The Iraqi president urged any patriotic Kurd to "fight with his country, his people and his leadership if it is confronted by foreign aggression."

Saddam's appeal came after Kurdish forces pushed toward the strategic oil center of Kirkuk and another major northern city of Mosul by taking over several major positions abandoned by Iraqi troops forced to flee by heavy coalition aerial bombardments.

Kurdish troops on Wednesday took an Iraqi position near the town of Kalak, which is some 40 kms from Mosul, on the demarcation line between Kurdish-controlled area and the government-controlled territories.

Thousands of US troops have parachuted in the Kurdish-controllednorth since last week to set up a northern front to encircle the Iraqi capital of Baghdad in the coming days.



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