Published July 24, 2003
BAGHDAD, Iraq – The U.S. military has used dental records and X-rays of previous injuries to Saddam Hussein's sons to confirm that Qusay and Uday Hussein (search) are dead, a military spokesman said Wednesday.
"Yesterday was a landmark day for the people and for the future of Iraq," Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez told reporters in Baghdad.
For Uday, dental records matched 90 percent -- a 100 percent match could not be made because of injuries sustained in Tuesday's attack in Mosul (search), in which the brothers were killed. The dental match for Qusay was 100 percent, Sanchez said.
"Autopsies will follow, but we have no doubt we have the bodies of Uday and Qusay," he said. "The Saddam Hussein regime will never come back to power."
Senior defense officials on Wednesday confirmed to Fox News that four formerly high-ranking Iraqi officials in coalition custody were shown the bodies for a positive ID. One of those was former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz (search).
Another was 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 55-most-wanted deck of cards.
Sanchez said the coalition would provide proof "in due time" to the Iraqi people that Uday, 39, and Qusay, 37, second only to their father in power in the ousted regime, were killed.
U.S. officials told Fox News that the military planned to release photographs of the brothers' bodies to prove to the Iraqi people that they are dead.
"Now, more than ever, all Iraqis can know that the former regime is gone and will not be coming back," President Bush said Wednesday.
Sanchez also announced that the coalition has nabbed No. 11 on the U.S. military's most-wanted list, Barzan Abd Al-Ghafur Sulayman Majid Al-Tikriti (search), Saddam's cousin and a commander of the ex-dictator's Republican Guard (search).
Only 18 of the original 55 most-wanted (search) are still at large. Uday and Qusay were Nos. 2 and 3 on the list.
News of the Hussein brothers' deaths was tempered by the announcement that two more U.S. soldiers had been killed and eight others wounded in separate attacks, bringing the total number of Americans killed in this war to 155.
Also on Wednesday, an Arab satellite network broadcast what it said was a new audiotape carrying the voice of Saddam, though no official confirmation has been received. The speaker said the tape was made on July 20.
Tuesday's six-hour raid in Mosul, the most successful American operation since major combat ended, came as a much-needed tonic for U.S. troops, who recently have suffered a dozen attacks a day by Saddam loyalists and other anti-American groups.
Sanchez on Wednesday briefed reporters on the details of the raid.
The U.S. military on Monday night received a tip from an Iraqi informant that Uday and Qusay -- long feared by most Iraqis for their roles in the military and intelligence arms of Saddam's brutal dictatorship -- were inside the house, which belonged to Nawaf al-Zaydan Muhhamad, a cousin of Saddam and a tribal leader in the region.
The military then began putting its attack plan together, lining up for an attack by part of the 101st Airborne Division (search) and CIA operatives. Among the weapons to be used were helicopters equipped with rockets and machine guns and Humvees with tow antitank systems.
After cordoning off the three-story home with the help of Iraqi police at 10 a.m., U.S. forces determined that their targets were on the fortified second floor of the house.
The military then commenced a "cordon and knock" operation, where an interpreter with a bullhorn first urged those inside the building to come out. When the occupants failed to do so, troops knocked on the door and tried to enter the building.
"Our mission was find, kill or capture," Sanchez said. "We had an enemy that was barricaded and we had to take measures to neutralize the target."
Once U.S. troops entered, the occupants fired at them with small arms, probably AK 47s, Sanchez said.
Three soldiers were wounded on the stairs inside, while another was injured outside. U.S. forces then withdrew and called for backup.
"There was no reason for us to rush to failure" because the building was surrounded, Sanchez said.
At 10:45 a.m., the military began firing grenade launchers, rockets and Humvee-mounted 50-caliber machine-gun fire "in an attempt to neutralize the threat," he said.
At 11:22, more ground forces came in, including more anti-tank platoons. At 11:45, the U.S. commander in charge brought in more assets, including helicopters with rocket systems and a special operations team on the ground.
At noon, troops tried to enter the house again, but they came under fire from occupants on the second floor. Troops withdrew and continued firing from outside the house, using tow missiles.
At 1:21, troops entered the house for a third time and only encountered fire from one person left alive. That person, believed to be the teenager, Sanchez said, was killed a few minutes later.
"At this point, the enemy had been eliminated and the building was cleared in its entirety," Sanchez said.
Four bodies were flown from Mosul to Bayji, a northern town 25 miles north of Tikrit, for DNA tests.
The other two bodies likely are that of a bodyguard and the teenage son of Qusay, U.S. officials said. The bodies are still being verified.
News of Saddam's sons' deaths touched off celebratory gunfire in parts of Iraq. When people in the predominantly Shiite Muslim city of Diwaniyah opened fire in celebration, a bullet hit a U.S. Marine in the back who was guarding a base in the city, a military official said. The Marine underwent surgery.
But L. Paul Bremer, Iraq's top civilian administrator, cautioned, "there will be some people who will be pretty unhappy that we killed these two guys."
"If one of my sons was dead, I'd want somebody to pay for it," Sgt. Colin Frederick, a 23-year-old armored scout from Fort Carson, Colo., said while patrolling the dangerous "Sunni Triangle," a bastion of Saddam loyalists stretching north and west from Baghdad. Most attacks on U.S. forces since the end of the war have been launched in the region.
In western Iraq, several Iraqi insurgents, their faces covered and cradling rocket-propelled grenade launchers and automatic weapons, vowed to "raise hell" against the United States and Britain for the killing of Saddam's sons.
They also threatened to bring their fight to the countries of the coalition partners, as well as Israel.
"If this news is true that Uday and Qusay are dead, we shall raise hell on Americans," one of the men said in a videotape obtained by Associated Press Television News. "Even the unborn child will take revenge for Uday and Qusay."
The Iraqi who provided the information that led to the raid will get the full reward of $30 million -- $15 million for each son. "I'm looking forward to giving that guy a check for $30 million," Bremer said. That informant reportedly now is in U.S. custody.
Fox News' Bret Baier, Greg Palkot, Liza Porteus and The Associated Press contributed to this report.