More GIs Die; Saddam's Sons Killed

Saddam Hussein's sons Odai and Qusai.
CBS/AP
A day after the U.S. said it succeeded in killing two sons of Saddam Hussein, 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.

A U.S. military official says two American soldiers were killed in separate attacks on convoys Wednesday, including one on the outskirts of the northern city of Mosul, where Saddam's sons Odai and Qusai were killed in a firefight the day before.

Specialist Brian Sharkey said the attack near Mosul happened while a military convoy was traveling near the town. He said one of the vehicles was destroyed by a roadside bomb.

Six soldiers were wounded in the attack.

Another convoy was attacked in Ramadi, west of the capital, Baghdad, killing one soldier and wounding two other soldiers.

CBSNews.com will Webcast a 10 a.m. Rose Garden press conference featuring President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Bremer, Iraq's top civilian administrator, to address the latest developments in Iraq.

Also Wednesday, an Arab satellite channel broadcast an audiotape purportedly made by Saddam Hussein 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.

The voice, whose identity cannot be confirmed at this point, urges Saddam's former soldiers not to lose faith and praises their ongoing "honorable Jihad operations."

The voice claiming to be Saddam goes on to say the U.S. was right when it said the war is not over.

"Yes, this war has not ended. The will of the people, the government, the Baath Party is not broken. Now, with the war not over, the occupation will not be able to stabilize the country with its army which occupies our land. The will of the people will not be subdued by the enemy," the voice said.

Saddam's sons Odai and Qusai - two of the most feared and powerful members of their father's deposed regime - were killed in a six-hour firefight Tuesday when U.S. forces stormed a palatial villa in the northern Iraqi town of Mosul, a senior American general said late Tuesday.

"We are certain that Odai and Qusai were killed," said Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez at a news conference in Baghdad Tuesday. "The bodies were in such a condition where you could identify them."

Four coalition soldiers were wounded and two other Iraqis were killed in the raid, but Saddam was not among them. The house belonged to one of Saddam's cousins, a key tribal leader in the region.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters the Iraqi people should be assured that two "leaders of a brutal regime" are gone. President Bush is described as "pleased" with the news that the Hussein brothers are dead.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair got the news in Hong Kong, where he was on the last leg of an Asian trip.

"This is a great day for the new Iraq," Blair told reporters early Wednesday, saying Odai and Qusai were both evil. "These particular two people were the head of the regime, which was not just a security threat because of its weapons program but was responsible for the torture and killing of thousands and thousands of innocent Iraqis people."

"The celebrations that have taken place are an indication of just how evil they were," said the British prime minister, referring to people in Baghdad and at least one other Iraqi city who apparently registered their approval by firing guns into the air.

In the official version, the shoot-out sequence 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.

Inside the villa, troops uncovered "small arms," "several documents linked to the brothers," plus the "body of Mustafa Hussein," Saddam's grandchild and Qusai's son, who was known to travel with his father, plus the "body of a lower-level bodyguard."

Military intelligence agents made the first identification by examining the bodies; then persons who knew the brothers well also confirmed their identity.

Acknowledging that the Iraqi population has been loath to believe American claims, officials say U.S. soldiers took videotape and still pictures of the battle's aftermath and suggest they may release some as early as Wednesday.

As for where Saddam's sons have been all this time, officials say they do not have a clear roadmap. There was also no sign of Saddam Hussein in the Mosul area and there has been no new intelligence on his whereabouts since U.S. forces launched a quick strike against a convoy of SUVs on the Iraqi-Syrian border.

The deaths of the 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.

Odai and Qusai ranked second only to their father in the deposed regime. They were Nos. 2 and 3 on the U.S. list of 55 top former Iraqi officials wanted by Washington. The U.S. had offered a $25 million reward for information leading to Saddam's capture and $15 million each for his sons.

Ironically for the brothers, if they had taken their father's advice they might still be alive today. U.S. officials now say they had reliable reports that just before Baghdad fell and the family made a run for it, Saddam had urged his sons to split up so as not to attract attention. Clearly, they didn't listen.

In Washington, L. Paul Bremer, Iraq's top civilian administrator, said he did not want to comment on how the deaths of Saddam's sons would affect security in Iraq.

However, Bremer said: "It certainly is good news for the Iraqi people."

"This will contribute significantly to reducing attacks on coalition soldiers," said Ahmad Chalabi, a delegate from the Coalition Provisional Authority, speaking at the United Nations.

In other developments:

  • Former POW Jessica Lynch returned home to West Virginia nearly four months after she was ambushed by Iraqi forces and later rescued from a hospital. "It's great to be home," she told a cheering crowd.
  • 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. Deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley said two CIA memos and a call from CIA Director George Tenet had persuaded him to take a similar passage out of a presidential speech in October - and that he should have done likewise when it turned up again in State of the Union drafts.
  • 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.
  • Delegates from Iraq's new Governing Council attended a U.N. Security Council session Tuesday, welcomed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan as a first step toward restoring Iraqi control over the U.S.-administered nation.

    Hours after the raid in Mosul Tuesday, 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.

    "It's probably very appropriate that they would be celebrating about now," Sanchez said.

    Qusai, Saddam's younger son, was his father's likely successor, U.S. intelligence officials said. He ran much of Iraq's security apparatus, controlling several militias, internal security services and the military forces of the once-vaunted Republican Guard.

    He was described as quiet and level, particularly compared to Odai, Saddam's eldest son, who had a reputation for brutality and flamboyance. Odai controlled Saddam's Fedayeen, the paramilitary force that fought U.S. troops during the war; many of its survivors are thought to be part of the ongoing guerrilla campaign in Iraq.

    Odai also controlled information and propaganda in Saddam's Iraq, and was chairman of the country's Olympic committee.

    Saddam has a third, younger son, according to some reports, and three daughters. All kept a low profile in his regime.

    Mosul, a town 240 miles northwest of Baghdad that housed Iraqi army bases, is outside the so-called "Sunni Triangle" in central Iraq home to much of the remaining support for Saddam, a Sunni Muslim who used his Baathist Party to oppress the country's Shiite majority.

    The triangle is also a center of anti-American resistance: In the latest attack, Tuesday, a U.S. soldier was killed and another wounded in an ambush along a dangerous road north of Baghdad. His death brought to 153 the number of U.S. troops killed in action since the March 20 start of war, six more than during the 1991 Gulf War.