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New Leads In Hunt For Saddam

shattered picture frame with a photograph of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein lies in a pile of rubble in Basra, Monday, April 7, 2003.
AP
Pentagon officials say evidence uncovered as a result of the capture of Saddam Hussein's personal secretary has given the U.S. military new leads to the possible whereabouts of Saddam Hussein and his two sons, reports CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin.

Two days after Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti was seized near Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, American commandos attacked a convoy of SUV's near the Syrian border. The convoy was believed to be carrying other members of Saddam's inner circle, perhaps even Saddam himself or one of his sons.

Attacking first from the air with AC-130 gunships and then on the ground, the Americans destroyed two of the SUV's and took 20 prisoners at a nearby compound, most of whom have since been released.

It will take DNA testing to know for sure but so far there is no indication Saddam or either of his sons were among the dead.

The U.S also captured five Syrian border guards, three of whom were wounded in an exchange of fire when the American commandos gave chase as one of the SUV's tried to escape across the border into Syria. The U.S. has promised Syria it will return the border guards.

In other developments:

  • Another grenade attack on U.S. troops in Iraq has killed one soldier and wounded one other. The military says the attack came against a military convoy south of Baghdad. Nine American soldiers have died in hostile action in Iraq this month alone.
  • U.S.-led civil administrators announced the creation of a new Iraqi army, with recruiting to begin next week. It initially will have one brigade of 12,000 men. It's an effort to contain Iraqi anger over desperate unemployment and to curb the rising tide of attacks against U.S. forces.
  • A group of U.S. senators traveling in Iraq say Americans should get used to the idea of the American involvement there. "I don't think the American people fully appreciate just how long we are going to be committed here and what the overall cost will be," said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del.
  • Iraq has re-entered the world oil market. A million barrels of Iraqi crude were loaded onto a Turkish tanker Sunday, but sabotage and looting of the 600-mile pipeline from northern Iraq to the port has delayed the flow of freshly pumped oil.

    U.S. officials increasingly believe Saddam survived two attempts to kill him during the war and that his fugitive status might be contributing to violence in postwar Iraq.

    A massive effort is now underway to locate him. Iron Horse Task Force, comprising 26,000 troops from the 4th Infantry Division and led by the secretive CIA military team called Grey Fox, is hunting Saddam in northern Iraq, between Baghdad and Kirkuk, reports the Times of London.

    The U.S. chief administrator of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, acknowledged Sunday to industrialists and political leaders at the World Economic Forum in Jordan that security is a prerequisite for putting Iraq on the road to recovery.

    Bremer insisted security was his "first priority," blaming continuing political violence and acts of sabotage on "a very small minority still trying to fight us" that is loyal to Saddam.

    He also suggested that Iraqi oil revenues could be distributed directly to the country's citizens, as Alaska does with its residents, or placed in a national trust fund to pay for pensions or other social programs.

    "Every individual Iraqi would come to understand that his or her stake in the country's economic success was there to see," Bremer said.