- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 17, 2003

WASHINGTON, April 17 (UPI) — Coalition special operations forces captured Saddam Hussein's half brother Barzan Ibrahim Hassan al-Tikriti early Thursday in Baghdad, U.S. Central Command spokesman Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks said Thursday.

Barzan is 38th on the list of top 55 regime leaders being sought by the coalition, and is the five of clubs in the deck of military playing cards that identify the wanted officials.

Barzan was also the target of an apparently unsuccessful bombing raid at his house in Ar Ramadi. U.S. forces hit the residence some 60 miles west of Baghdad with six precision munitions April 11, according to U.S. Central Command.

Barzan headed the feared Mukhabarat intelligence service from 1979 to 1983, and was the Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in Geneva from 1983 through most of the 1990s.

According to the Coalition for International Justice, Barzan allegedly organized a group of companies and funds to handle Saddam's secret wealth.

Brooks said foreign fighters continue to be a presence in Iraq. He named an Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedin-e-khalq, as one that has been targeted by U.S. bombs. The group is negotiating a possible cease-fire and capitulation with the coalition, an effort that should be completed in a few days, Brooks said.

The northern city of Mosul continues to be violent and unruly. U.S. Marines shot and killed at least seven protesters Tuesday and possibly three more Wednesday during an attempted bank robbery that Marines and local police attempted to stop. The robbers shot at the coalition forces, he said.

"There are pockets still of lawlessness, violence, and indications of deliberate agitation to create those conditions," Brooks said.

Fighting also continues sporadically in and around Baghdad. The 4th Infantry Division, previously slated to enter from Turkey in a never realized massive northern front, engaged in a brief firefight near the Taji Airfield north of Baghdad. They destroyed some T-72 tanks and captured more than 100 enemy fighters. The enemy force also had unmanned artillery pieces, armored personnel carriers, loaded multiple rocket launcher systems, a surface-to-air missile warehouse, and a number of computers.

United Kingdom forces in Basra were attacked by rocket-propelled grenades Wednesday.

"The patrols are still finding evidence of armed regime death squad members in the city, but in general Basra is rapidly improving in stability and security," Brooks said.

Also in the south, British forces were led to five shallow gravesites near al Zubair. They are being investigated.

Brooks said significant progress is being made in restoring power, with a power plant turned on in Kirkuk that will push power to Mosul and then to Baghdad, where power has been out for close to two weeks.

Brooks described the chain reaction between the Iraqi power plants. The power in Kirkuk will restore function to a natural gas complex in the town. Once that is up to 100 percent capability, the gas can be pumped into Mosul, where a gas operated power plant is down. That power station will run the Mosul hydroelectric station at the Mosul Dam, renamed from Saddam Dam, in the northwest section of the city.

Water distribution will then be restored in Mosul. Electric power can then be pushed from Mosul south to Baiji, where a substation will push power to Baghdad and Tikrit, Brooks said.

In the meantime, the Baghdad power plant is being prepared to run on a temporary supply of oil until an uninterrupted supply of both power and oil can be provided.

"As we have successes like the Kirkuk power plant being restored, it starts a sequence that rapidly improves conditions throughout," he said.

Hospitals in Baghdad continue to suffer from the unstable security situation there, Brooks admitted. Hospitals in parts of town where fighting continues cannot be assessed for damage or supplies, Brooks said.

He also suggested that the bad condition of many hospitals has less to do with the war and subsequent looting than neglect by Saddam's regime.

"We find that every day coalition forces are finding healthcare facilities that are underequipped, that are unsanitary, that are understaffed, and it's clear that quality health care was simply not a priority of the regime," Brooks said.

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