His comments came after Obama confirmed this week that the US would end its combat mission in Iraq as scheduled on August 31, despite figures showing July had been the deadliest month in the country for more than two years.

Praising Saddam

Aziz also launched a staunch defence of Saddam Hussein, insisting the West's view of him was wrong.

"For 30 years Saddam built Iraq and now it is destroyed. There are more sick than before, more hungry"

Tariq Aziz,
Iraq's former deputy prime minister

"Saddam did not lie," he said. "He did not change the facts. He is someone for whom I have a great respect and love. He is a man who history will show served his country.

"Saddam built the country and served the people. I cannot accept your [the West's] judgment that he was wrong."

Aziz went on to say Iraq was now in a worse state than before the US-led invasion.

"For 30 years Saddam built Iraq and now it is destroyed. There are more sick than before, more hungry," Aziz said.

"The people don't have services. People are being killed every day in the tens, if not hundreds.

"I was encouraged when [US President Barack Obama] was elected president, because I thought he was going to correct some of the mistakes of Bush. But Obama is a hypocrite. He is leaving Iraq to the wolves."

Deadly July

Figures released by the Baghdad government on Saturday showed that 535 people died in July, including 396 civilians, 89 policemen and 50 soldiers.

That figure was the highest for a single month since May 2008 when 563 people were killed in violence.

Aziz, 73, turned himself in to US forces in April 2003 and is one of Saddam's few surviving senior cohorts.

He was appointed deputy premier in 1991, having previously served as foreign minister.

In 2009, he was jailed for 15 years for murder and given a seven-year term in August 2009 for his role in expelling Kurds from Iraq's north.

Aziz's family has repeatedly called for his release on health grounds.