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Saddam's Sons Confirmed Dead

Saddam Hussein's sons Uday (search) and Qusay (search) were killed Tuesday when U.S. soldiers stormed a house in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, U.S. military officials said Tuesday.

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez of U.S. Central Command (search) announced late Tuesday night in Baghdad that Uday and Qusay were two of the four people who died in a firefight between U.S. troops and Iraqis at the house earlier in the day.

"This will prove to the Iraqi people that at least these two members of the regime will not be coming back to power," Sanchez said from Baghdad. "We remain totally committed to the same regime never coming back to power and tormenting the Iraqi people."

Sources at the Pentagon and within the Bush administration earlier told Fox News that at least four "high-level" targets were killed inside the large villa that belonged to one of Saddam's cousins. A senior administration official said the U.S. was "90 to 95 percent certain" that Saddam's sons were among the dead.

• Map: Postwar Iraq

Four bodies were transported out of the house. Three were adults — Uday, Qusay and presumably a bodyguard. The fourth body was of a teenager — possibly Qusay's son.

Sanchez would not say how a positive identification of Uday's and Qusay's bodies had been made, and he said a positive identification of the other two bodies had not yet been completed.

The U.S. government has DNA samples on Saddam's sons, but testing takes time. U.S. officials said earlier that they wanted to talk to people who knew Uday and Qusay in order to identify the bodies and look for distinguishing marks.

Sanchez said the bodies were in good enough condition to be identified by appearance.

An Iraqi informant came to the U.S. military Monday night and gave information as to where Uday and Qusay may be, Sanchez said.

Fox News has learned that Abid Hamid Mahmud Al-Tikriti (search), Saddam's top aide who surrendered June 17 and was the "Ace of Diamonds" in the U.S. military's deck of cards representing Iraq's most wanted, provided some of the information leading U.S. officials to confirm that two of the bodies were Uday and Qusay.

A more detailed briefing on the operation was planned for Wednesday.

Widespread and sporadic gunfire crackled across Baghdad after dark Tuesday as word spread that Saddam's feared and hated sons might have been killed.

"It's celebration. People have heard about what happened," a U.S. military spokesman told Reuters.

The house in Mosul was burned to the ground after a loud, four-hour gunbattle between the people inside and soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division.

Gen. Frank Helmick, the U.S. general in charge of the raid, told Fox News that the occupants of the house fired at U.S. soldiers, and the Americans called in helicopters and an unmanned vehicle for assistance before storming it.

"We received direct fire from the building multiple times. We used a scaled escalation of force," Helmick told Fox News' Steve Centanni at the scene of the firefight.

Helmick said U.S. forces couldn't get into the building because of the small-arms fire they were facing, so "we had to use bigger caliber weapons to render the building safe" — including missiles, helicopters and grenade launchers.

Members of Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion of the 101st Airborne Division (search), wouldn't say at the time whom they had brought out of the house, but all the troops "have smiles on their faces and they seemed to have carried out this mission successfully," Centanni reported.

In Washington, Paul Bremer (search), the top U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, called the raid an example of the U.S. military's "astounding professionalism."

While he didn't comment on how the deaths of Saddam's sons would affect security in Iraq, he said: "It certainly is good news for the Iraqi people."

"This will contribute significantly to reducing attacks on coalition soldiers," said Ahmad Chalabi, a delegate from the Coalition Provisional Authority, speaking at the United Nations.

Mosul was believed to be the exit route for some of Saddam's family members trying to get out of Iraq and flee to Syria.

Fox News military analyst Col. Bill Cowan earlier said he hoped Saddam's sons had been captured and not killed.

"I think for the [Iraqi] population to see these two guys shackled, incarcerated and really given some harsh treatment … will have a most profound and long-term psychological advantage," Cowan said.

Ret. U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Valleley, a Fox News military analyst, said he hoped Tuesday's events might lead to the ultimate capture of Saddam himself.

"One event can lead to the other," Valleley said. "So hopefully, this will lead to determining in some way where Saddam may be."

The United States has offered a $25 million reward for information leading to Saddam's capture, and $15 million for his sons. There was no immediate indication whether anyone had provided information that would lead to an award being made.

In Washington, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld briefed President Bush personally on the assault.

"The president is aware of the reports and is aware of the military operation that took place today," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters.

Intelligence sources said the U.S. task force — Task Force 20 (search) — was in charge of the raid. It's basically a "hit team" that follows up only on solid intelligence.

Task Force 20 — including Army delta forces and CIA operatives — was originally given the responsibility of finding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, but later it was ordered to refocus its efforts on hunting down Saddam and his inner circle.

Before the official announcement that Uday and Qusay were dead, everyone was anxiously awaiting the news.

"There's no question they were diabolical forces in Iraq," said Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. She said the deaths of Qusay and Uday would show the world that the U.S. work in Iraq is far from over.

"I think it goes to show how important our role is in Iraq and continues to be that we have to remove these forces of fear," Snowe said. "Iraq was one of the most atrocious regimes ... I think that we all recognized that as long as Saddam Hussein continues to exist, he poses a threat to the Iraqi people — they will never be able to breathe easy if they know he's there."

Uday, Saddam's eldest son, was commander of Iraq's Saddam Fedayeen (search) and chaired the Iraqi Olympic Committee. He was No. 3 on the coalition's most-wanted list, after his father and Qusay.

Iraqi Olympic athletes say they were routinely jailed and tortured for losing competitions or disobeying Uday's orders.

During Saddam's reign, Qusay was in charge of all the military, intelligence and security services in Iraq, including the elite Republican Guard and the Special Security Organization, which protected the regime and its weapons.

From 1988 to 1999, Qusay often ordered mass executions of several thousand prisoners, and suppressed revolts among the al-Dulaym tribe in 1995 and among Shiites in 1997.

Both Uday and Qusay were active in the management of the general office of the military intelligence service, the Istikhbarat, and the internal intelligence service, the Mukhabarat.

Qusay was considered the more likely of the two to succeed their father.

Fox News' Jim Angle, Bret Baier, Wendell Goler, Greg Palkot and The Associated Press contributed to this report.