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President Bush Sees "Progress" in Iraq War

BY Admin  March 23, 2003 at 2:40 PM EDT

The president spoke to reporters for the first time since the beginning of military action after returning from a weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat where he met with aides and monitored the U.S. offensive inside Iraq.

“There’s pockets of resistance, but we’re making good progress,” Bush said. “This is just the beginning of a tough fight.”

Despite the resistance, the president said the coalition of forces would continue their fight.

“We’re slowly but surely achieving our objective,” Bush said. “We’re just in the beginning phases. We’re executing a plan.”

The president also said it was too late for the Iraqi leader to go into exile.

“Saddam Hussein is losing control of his country,” President Bush said.

Responding to a question about recently captured U.S. soldiers, the president said he expected Iraqi forces to treat captured U.S. troops “humanely, just like we’ll treat any Iraqi prisoners.” He warned that anyone who mistreats U.S. prisoners will be treated as a war criminal.

Mr. Bush said there is an “interesting contrast” between the treatment of Iraqi prisoners and U.S. prisoners.

Mr. Bush also said “massive amounts” of humanitarian aid would begin to flow into Iraq within 36 hours.

“That’s going to be positive news for those who suffered a long time under Saddam Hussein,” he said.

The president said he and First Lady Laura Bush had prayed for the coalition forces, especially those killed in battle and their families.