After spiriting to safety seven missing American troops unexpectedly released by a possibly leaderless band of Iraqis, U.S. forces met sporadic resistance Sunday in their move on Tikrit, birthplace of Saddam Hussein.
Deliverance came as the prisoners' hopes of rescue were dwindling after three weeks of captivity. "I was getting to the point where I believed they would have killed us," said Army Spc. Shoshana Johnson, 30, of El Paso, Texas, who had been shot with a single bullet that went through both her feet.
Marines assembled on Tikrit's outskirts and sent units in and out of the city, drawing occasional small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades, not the intense battle that once seemed likely there. Even so, U.S. forces did not try to occupy Tikrit right away, Pentagon officials said.
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