Supporters of Iraq's late dictator Saddam Hussein gathered in Damascus Thursday to denounce the US "occupation" of Iraq and demand that his loyalists unite.
About 500 Saddam loyalists, including members of his outlawed Baath Party, vowed to continue their support to what they called "Iraqi national resistance," a term they widely use to describe Iraqi insurgents attacking only US forces.
The gathering at a meeting hall owned by Syria's culture ministry also was organized to mark the occasion of Saddam's birthday, which is April 28.
Addressing the gathering, Ghazwan al-Qubaisi, a senior Baath official, hailed Saddam as a "martyr" amid cheers from some of the participants who shouted "Saddam is a hero."
Al-Qubaisi also called on Baath party members who split into two main factions following the collapse of Saddam's regime in 2003 to reunite.