Sign in to comment!

Menu
Home

Hunt for Iraq Regime Members Heats Up

The U.S. military has launched a series of raids and patrols as part of the mission to hunt down deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein (search) and his Fedayeen loyalists, the military said Monday.

The military may use pictures of Saddam dressed up to look like Elvis (search) and Zsa Zsa Gabor (search) as part of the campaign to get former regime members riled up enough to come out of hiding.

In the meantime, efforts to rebuild Iraq were set back over the weekend with what first appeared to be saboteur-rigged explosions on the country's vital oil pipelines and the capital's water supply.

And the Army acknowledged Monday that it had killed a Reuters television journalist after soldiers mistook his camera for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

Within the past 24 hours, American forces conducted 15 raids, 1,532 patrols and took in detainees in their hunt for former regime members, military spokesman Col. Guy Shields (search) said Monday. Iraqi citizens have also provided key information on hidden weapons caches.

During a raid in Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, troops found explosives and weapons. A raid on Kiyarah in the north uncovered three complete mortar systems.

The 4th Infantry Division has restored and refurbished hospitals, repaired air conditioning units, provided medical supplies and replaced furniture in those facilities, Shields said, while in Baghdad, the military's "Taskforce Neighborhood" cleaned up two neighborhoods and turned a dump into a soccer field for Iraqi children.

But the successes were tempered by the news that coalition soldiers had shot a Reuters cameraman.

Cameraman Mazen Dana, 41, of the West Bank town of Hebron, was videotaping when U.S. soldiers shot him.

Offering condolences to the family and coworkers of the deceased man, Shields said: "We will make sure nothing like this happens again," adding that the incident is under investigation.

The videotape in Dana's camera showed two U.S. tanks coming toward him. Shots were fired and Dana fell to the ground. His body was taken away by a U.S. helicopter.

A U.S. military official said American soldiers mistook Dana for an Iraqi guerrilla.

"This is clearly another tragic incident; it is extremely regrettable," said Central Command spokesman Sgt. Maj. Lewis Matson.

Added Shields: "We do everything we can to minimize non-combatant casualties … we take these very seriously … and I can assure you no one feels any worse than the soldier who fired the rounds."

On the oil pipeline explosions, which occurred 25 miles northwest of Baghdad, the military is backing off earlier claims that sabotage was behind the incident.

The Army first said the first of two fires burning along a pipeline to Turkey was started by somebody who lit oil leaking from a burst pipe. The fires, which were a few miles apart, stopped oil exports to Turkey just two days after they began.

But it may not have been an act of sabotage, officials said.

Local police commander Brig. Gen. Ahmed Ibrahim earlier vowed to pursue "a group of conspirators who received money from a particular party" to blow up the pipeline.

Baghdad is also reeling after its water main was bombed Sunday, leaving chest-high water on some streets.

The explosion in northern Baghdad blew a hole in a 5-foot-diameter water main, flooding streets. Witnesses said two men on a motorbike left a bag of explosives and detonated it minutes later.

"It was an act of sabotage," said Majid Noufel, a Baghdad water company engineer. "We've had to stop pumping water to the whole city so we can fix the damage."

Meanwhile, the U.S. military may be trying a new technique to bring former regime members out of hiding, although military officials told Fox News some news reports of the campaign are wrong.

In the campaign, set to start on Monday, U.S. forces plan to put up posters around Tikrit showing Saddam's face superimposed on Hollywood heroines like Gabor, Rita Hayworth and Elvis; British-born rocker Billy Idol and other stars in an attempt to enrage his followers and draw them out, Reuters reported.

In one picture, Saddam has his head tossed back, his blonde locks flowing and a filter-tipped cigarette dangling coquettishly between his delicate fingers.

"We're going to do something devious with these," said Lt. Col. Steve Russell last week, as he checked out a range of spoof Saddam pictures taken from the www.worth1000.com, Reuters reported.

"Most of the locals will love 'em and they'll be laughing. But the bad guys are going to be upset, which will just make it easier for us to know who they are."

Russell's 1st Battalion, 22nd Regiment is spearheading the 4th Infantry Division's search for Saddam.

But Russell told Fox News that while the posters do exist, the military doesn't plan to distribute them in Tikrit. Russell said he's angry with the Reuters story and said the posters are not part of a campaign to enrage Saddam followers.

Adding to the troubles of coalition forces in Iraq, a new group of resistance fighters vowed Sunday to battle the U.S.-led occupation whether or not it helps rebuild the country.

The Iraqi National Islamic Resistance Movement said in a videotape aired on the Arabic Al-Jazeera television network that they would battle the occupying troops even if the U.S.-led coalition helps Iraq recover from war.

"This resistance is not a reaction to the American provocations against the Iraqi people or to the shortage of services, as some analysts believe ... but to kick out the occupiers as a matter of principle," a man read from a statement.

In other news, U.S. military spokesman Spc. Anthony Reinoso said Sunday that someone fired two mortar rounds at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison the previous night, killing six Iraqis and wounding 58. He didn't know whether the casualties were guards or prisoners, or who was responsible.

The motivation was unclear. Abu Ghraib, where Saddam's regime executed political prisoners and others, is being used by Iraq's U.S. occupiers to house high-security criminals. U.S. troops at and near the prison have been attacked in past months.

Meanwhile, U.S. troops continued to come under fire from Iraqi guerrillas.

Two soldiers were wounded when guerrillas attacked their convoy with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire about eight miles east of Tikrit, 4th Infantry spokesman Lt. Col. William MacDonald said. The soldiers were in stable condition.

U.S. troops killed two Iraqis in two separate incidents late Sunday, MacDonald said. Soldiers shot dead a looter southeast of Tikrit after he disregarded warning shots. Another Iraqi was shot and died when his car ran a checkpoint north of Baghdad.

In other news, digging for casualties of the war has started among the ruins of one of Saddam's palaces, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society said Monday.

The nationwide campaign, which includes the participation of the International Committee of the Red Cross and Iraqi legal and medical institutes, began earlier this month.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.