Baghdad has flatly denied the United States' accusations of being affiliated with Al-Qaeda.
According to the Thursday issue of Iraq Daily, the country's Vice-Premier Tariq Aziz said, while commenting on George Bush's State of the Union Speech, which accused Baghdad of being affiliated with the terrorist organization, that the accusations were completely groundless.
"I appeal to [President] Bush and his administration to prove it if they can," he said.
In case the USA unleashes war, Iraq will "fight courageously" so the Americans will "suffer heavy losses" and lose, he went on.
Iraq is aware that war means heavy material losses, "but this is a question of our independence," stressed the vice-premier, adding that "America's deterrent and blackmail" would not intimidate Iraq.
Touching on the problem of mass destruction weapons, Aziz remarked Iraq had already said it had none. "We are honest in this statement," he emphasized.
United Nations inspectors must ask appropriate questions to find out if Iraq has any mass destruction weapons. "We on our part must answer their questions," he concluded.
A Russian fighter with call sign Rassvet (Sunrise) destroyed an Abrams tank in the area of Avdiivka, the 15th Separate Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade said