- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 23, 2003

President Bush said yesterday that the deaths of Saddam Hussein’s sons mean that the Iraqi Ba’athist regime “is gone and will not be coming back.”

Also, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said the United States would show the world the photos of the corpses of Uday and Qusai Hussein — Nos. 2 and 3 on the list of most-wanted Iraqi fugitives.

Clearly pleased by the best news out of Iraq in weeks, Mr. Bush appeared in the Rose Garden with three of his top lieutenants: Iraq administrator L. Paul Bremer, Mr. Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard B. Myers.

“Yesterday, in the city of Mosul, the careers of two of the regime’s chief henchmen came to an end,” the president said.

“Saddam Hussein’s sons were responsible for torture, maiming and murder of countless Iraqis,” he added. “Now, more than ever, all Iraqis can know that the former regime is gone and will not be coming back.”

The president made his remarks just hours after the top U.S. ground commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, confirmed that Uday and Qusai were killed in a fierce firefight Tuesday.

“We have no doubt we have the bodies of Uday and Qusai,” Gen. Sanchez said. “We are certain.”

That certainty was based on matching the bodies to dental records, medical X-rays and visual identification by four former members of the Ba’ath Party regime, including Abid Hamid Mahmud, No. 4 on the most-wanted list. The bodies were taken from Mosul to Baghdad by coalition forces yesterday.

Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill after briefing members of Congress, Mr. Rumsfeld said he had not decided precisely when the photos would be released, only that they would be.

“I said soon,” Mr. Rumsfeld said.

Many world leaders welcomed the news of the sons’ deaths, even without the photos.

“This is a great day for the new Iraq,” said British Prime Minister Tony Blair. “These two people were at the head of a regime that was responsible for the torture and killing of thousands and thousands of innocent Iraqis.

“The celebrations that are taking place are an indication of just how evil they were,” added Mr. Blair, speaking to reporters in Hong Kong. “I think this is a very important move forward. It’s great news.”

Other world leaders applauding the news were Australian Prime Minister John Howard and even Iran’s ruling clerics.

“We will be happy to see the death of Saddam, his sons and all those whose hands are stained with the blood of innocent people, including Iranians,” Iranian Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi said.

Some Muslims in Iraq and around the world, though, said the deaths would stir up anger and that it would have been better if they had been captured for trial.

In other developments in Iraq yesterday:

• Arab TV broadcast a tape purportedly made by Saddam calling on Iraqis to continue attacks on the U.S.-led coalition. The tape reportedly was made Sunday, two days before the killings of Uday and Qusai. No U.S. official has commented publicly on its authenticity.

• Barzan Abd al-Ghafur Sulayman Majid, the head of the Special Republican Guard and No. 11 on the most-wanted list, was seized at an undisclosed location in Iraq, Gen. Sanchez told reporters.

• Two more U.S. soldiers, one each from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and the 101st Airborne Division, died when their convoys were attacked by what the military called an improvised explosive device (IED). The fatalities brought the total number of U.S. combat deaths since May 1 to 41.

Gen. Sanchez provided a detailed account of the raid on Saddam’s sons in a three-story mansion in Mosul. The plan was set into motion Monday night.

“We had had an Iraqi citizen walk in and give us information that Uday and Qusai might be located at this residence,” he said. “Over the course of the night, we planned our operation.”

By 10 a.m. Tuesday, U.S. forces had surrounded the house and used a bullhorn-wielding interpreter to urge the occupants to surrender. When no one answered after 10 minutes, soldiered entered the building and immediately came under fire from AK-47s being discharged from the home’s fortified second floor.

Three U.S. soldiers were wounded on the staircase and a fourth injured outside. The troops withdrew and called in heavier firepower.

Still taking small-arms fire, the Americans pounded the house with grenade launchers, rockets and .50-caliber machine-gun fire. At noon, they again entered the structure, only to be driven back a second time by gunfire from the second floor.

Withdrawing again, the troops fired 10 TOW missiles into the structure, which apparently killed Saddam’s sons and an adult bodyguard. At 1:21 p.m., forces entered the home a third time and took fire from the last person alive, Qusai’s 14-year-old son, Mustafa.

“They killed the remaining individual that was in the second floor,” Gen. Sanchez said. “At this point, the enemy had been eliminated and the building was cleared in its entirety.”

The commander bristled when reporters in Baghdad, including one shouting Briton, suggested the mission had been a failure because Uday and Qusai were not taken alive and put on trial. Other journalists complained that it was a lopsided fight.

“I would never consider this a failure,” Gen. Sanchez said. “Our mission is to find, kill or capture. In this case, we had an enemy that was defending, that was barricaded and we had to take the measures that were necessary in order to neutralize the target.”

The commander emphasized that the raid would dispirit remnants of Saddam’s regime.

“The death of Uday and Qusai, I believe, is definitely going to be a turning point for the resistance and the subversive elements that we are encountering,” he said.

“But our mission is not complete,” he added. “The ultimate objective is Saddam Hussein.”

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, back after a five-day Iraq trip, told reporters at the Pentagon that the sons’ deaths would convince Iraqis that Saddam and his clan were not invincible and would encourage cooperation with the United States.

“The one thing that I’m sure of is we’re going to get more intelligence, that Iraqis are going to be more comfortable,” he said.

Ahmad Chalabi, a delegate from Iraq’s Governing Council, agreed, saying at the United Nations that eliminating Saddam’s sons was “important psychologically” for the Iraqi people.

“These people had an aura about them that they were invincible … not answerable to any charge,” he said.

Mr. Bush made clear that he will not be satisfied until Saddam and the last vestiges of his regime are killed or captured.

“Our military forces are on the offensive,” he said. “They’re working with the newly free Iraqi people to destroy the remnants of the old regime and their terrorist allies.”

The president praised Mr. Bremer for “showing great skill and resourcefulness” in the task of swiftly returning Iraq to full sovereignty.

Mr. Bremer yesterday gave the White House his plans to have electricity, water service and health care back to prewar levels in two months, though rebuilding Iraq’s economy as a whole will take at least three years.

He told reporters at the National Press Club that repairing Iraq’s electricity and water systems will cost “a lot of money, even in Washington” — an estimated $13 billion and $16 billion, respectively.

Mr. Bush agreed, saying at the White House that “rebuilding Iraq will require a sustained commitment.”

Mr. Rumsfeld approved a plan for rotating soldiers into Iraq to relieve some who have been serving in the region for nearly a year. A memo obtained by the Associated Press said the 3rd Infantry Division will come home in September, the 101st Airborne Division in February and March, the 4th Infantry Division in April and the 1st Armored Division in May.

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