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Iraqi leader sees start of key battle with Iran

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said Wednesday that a decisive battle had begun in the 41-month-old Persian Gulf war as Iran reported it was advancing after launching a major new attack.

Iran said it began a two-pronged offensive across a 100-mile front in the southern and central sectors of the battle zone.

In a message on Baghdad Radio, Mr. Hussein said: ''The criminals (Iranians) wanted a decisive battle . . . so let it be a decisive one that will fortify the victory of Iraq and defeat the evil, aggressive, and expansionist ambitions of the enemy.''

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