Syrian Handover a Goodwill Sign

Iraqi officials said Sunday that Syrian authorities captured Saddam Hussein's (search) half brother in Syria (search) and handed him over to Iraq in an apparent goodwill gesture.

Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan (search), who was also a former adviser suspected of financing insurgents after U.S. troops ousted the former dictator, was captured in Hasakah in northeastern Syria near the Iraqi border, two senior Iraqi officials told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The officials did not specify when al-Hassan was captured, only saying he was detained following the Feb. 14 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (search) in Beirut, Lebanon, in a blast that killed 16 others.

Syria has come under intense scrutiny following Hariri's death, with many in Lebanon blaming Damascus (search) and Beirut's pro-Syrian government for the killing. The United States and France also have called on Damascus to withdraw 15,000 Syrian troops from Lebanon.

Washington has long accused Syria of harboring and aiding former members of Saddam's toppled Baathist regime suspected of involvement in the deadly insurgency against U.S.-led forces in Iraq.

"The capture appeared to be a goodwill gesture by the Syrians to show that they are cooperating," one Iraqi official told the AP.