MOSUL, Iraq – At least 1,000 people gathered outside the house of Nawaf al-Zaydan Muhhamad (search) — some shouting in delight, others cursing in anger — after American soldiers stormed the mansion and killed Saddam Hussein's two eldest sons.
The huge stone mansion, with mighty support columns, was riddled by bullet scars and gaping holes caused by rockets fired from helicopters.
"How can they do this?" shouted a man in the crowd, apparently more concerned with the property damage than the death of two of the cruelest men in Saddam's regime — Uday and Qusay Hussein (search). "What are the Americans doing destroying a house like this?"
The owner is a tribal sheik and a cousin of Saddam.
Some Iraqis were delighted, while others cursed U.S. soldiers who milled about as smoke wafted from the blown-out windows as the six-hour siege ended. Still others stood silently and appeared in mourning.
One American soldier walked in front of the house, his arm draped across the shoulder of an Iraqi man in white robes.
A man who witnessed the attack said it escalated with U.S. helicopters called in after men in the house shot at U.S. soldiers with a rocket-propelled grenade (search).
"There were gunshots from inside the house. The gunshots were coming from the people inside the house and the Americans were outside for half an hour," said the witness, who didn't give his name. "The people in the house fired an RPG-7 and then Americans called helicopters, which attacked the house."
A similar account was given at the Pentagon (search).
When U.S. troops entered the home's ground floor, they almost immediately came under fire from the four people holed up in the second floor, a senior defense official said in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The home's second floor had been hardened against attack with bulletproof glass, the official said.
The U.S. soldiers then called in an attack helicopter, which fired several missiles into the building, the official said.
Four soldiers were wounded in the assault, and flown to safety by U.S. helicopters.