Bush Hails Saddam Sons' Deaths

President Bush, center, flanked by the civilian U.S. administrator of Iraq L. Paul Bremer, right, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, left, makes remarks about Iraq, Wednesday, July 23, 2003, in the Rose Garden of the White House
AP
President Bush on Wednesday found further proof of a new era in Iraq in the deaths of Saddam Hussein's sons, Odai and Qusai, who were slain the day before in a U.S. raid.

"Yesterday in the city of Mosul, the careers of two of the regime's chief henchmen came to and end," the president, speaking in the Rose Garden. "Saddam Hussein's sons were responsible for the torture, maiming and murder of countless Iraqis."

"Now more than ever all Iraqis can know that the former regime is gone and will not be coming back," he said.

Details emerged about the raid that killed the sons. It took U.S. forces several hours and three attempts to kill the sons and two other Iraqis, said Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez.

While celebrating the successful raid, Sanchez stressed that "the war goes on." Indeed, two U.S. soldiers were killed in separate attacks, and Arab TV aired a new audiotape supposedly of Saddam urging Iraqi soldiers to attack Americans.

In key developments:

  • A U.S. military official says two American soldiers were killed in separate attacks on convoys. Six soldiers were wounded in one of the attacks.
  • Barzan Abd al-Ghafur Sulayman Majid al-Tikriti, the commander of Saddam's Special Republican Guard and number 11 on the list of former regime officials, was arrested by coalition forces.
  • An Arab satellite channel broadcast an audiotape purportedly made by Saddam on July 20 ordering Iraqi soldiers to rise up against Americans. The voice on the tape claims that Saddam's party began reorganizing two days after the fall of Baghdad last April.
  • A top White House national security adviser is taking the blame for allowing a tainted intelligence report suggesting Iraq was trying to buy uranium in Africa to find its way into President Bush's State of the Union address.
  • Former President Clinton suggests now that the Bush administration has acknowledged the erroneous reference in the State of the Union speech, it's time to move on. Speaking on CNN's "Larry King Live," Mr. Clinton says the focus should be on ending tensions in Iraq.
  • The Army has approved a plan for rotating fresh troops into Iraq and bringing home those who have served for nearly a year. The plan calls for maintaining troops at their current level of about 145,000 by rotating in one-for-one replacements, defense officials said Tuesday.

    The president hailed progress since the end of major combat in Iraq, including the formation of local councils, Tuesday's visit to the United Nations by a new national council, the upcoming formation of both a new Iraqi army and a new constitution.

    The president said the coalition that invaded Iraq "has a comprehensive strategy to move Iraq to a future that is secure and prosperous…for the good of Iraq and for the security of the United States and our friends."

    "A few remaining holdouts are trying to prevent the advancement of hope and freedom," Mr. Bush said. "These killers are the enemies of Iraq's people. They operate mainly in a few areas of the country and wherever they operate they are being hunted and they will be defeated."

    The deaths of Saddam's sons could have a major impact on the Iraqi resistance, which has been mounting about a dozen attacks a day against U.S. occupation troops.

    The guerrillas are thought to be former military officers and Baath Party leaders loyal to Saddam and his family, especially the sons, who played primary roles in the military and feared security services.

    However, Abdul Bari al Atwan, editor of the Arabic newspaper Al Quds, told the CBS News Early Show, "I disagree with the opinions that this will actually make Iraq safer and put an end to the resistance. I believe it will fuel the resistance."

    Tuesday's raid began when an Iraqi informer walked into a U.S. military location in Iraq Monday night and provided information that the two brothers were staying in a villa on the north side of Mosul.

    But, reports CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart, sources say U.S. intelligence had already sniffed out the same lead and the tipster only confirmed their suspicions.

    After getting the tip, U.S. forces moved elements of the 101st airborne, an infantry company, Kiowa helicopters and Humvees with TOW antitank systems and .50-caliber machine guns into the area. Iraq police formed a cordon.

    AH-64 Apaches and Air Force A-10s were on standby but weren't used because of fears civilians might be harmed, Sanchez said.

    When U.S. troops first entered the building, they met fire as they mounted the stairs to the second floor. Three soldiers were wounded on the stairs and one outside. The troops pulled back.

    U.S. forces then began to "prepare the objective prior to reentry," Sanchez said, pounding the building with rockets and .50-caliber machine gun fire.

    After the second attempt to enter was repulsed, ten antitank missiles were fired into the structure, apparently killing three of the men inside. Troops entered for the third time, climbed to the second floor, took fire, and killed the remaining person.

    According to Sanchez, no civilians were injured in the raid.

    U.S. forces used dental records and four individuals - including No. 4 on the most wanted list, Abid Hamid Mahmoud al-Tikriti — to confirm the identities of the sons. Central Command is now working on ways to prove to Iraqis the sons are dead. Asked if that might include photographs, Sanchez said all options were open.

    Hours after the raid, gunfire erupted throughout Baghdad, making travel very dangerous. The shooting was believed to be celebratory as news of the killing of the sons spread through the capital.