TIKRIT, Iraq – U.S. forces said Wednesday they arrested 19 suspected members of the anti-U.S. resistance and killed another, and found a huge stockpile of weapons in a series of raids in northern Iraq. But the big prize — Saddam Hussein (search) — remained elusive.
Iraq's postwar recovery continued: In Baghdad, the U.S.-installed Governing Council (search) asked for U.S. help in creating desperately needed jobs, while to the south in Diwaniyah, Spanish soldiers began setting up a base for troops from Spain and four Latin American countries to replace U.S. forces heading home.
For the fifth straight day, no U.S. military personnel were reported killed in attacks. Military combat deaths had been coming almost daily, with 52 U.S. soldiers killed in combat since May 1, when U.S. President George W. Bush declared major combat over.
The U.S. military announced the arrest of a man it said was organizing guerrilla attacks against American soldiers. The man, nabbed Sunday by Iraqi police officers, was the brother of a Saddam bodyguard captured by U.S. forces on July 29, said Lt. Col. Steve Russell of the 4th Infantry Division.
Russell did not identify the man, but said he was the brother of Adnan Abdullah Abid al-Musslit, who was believed to have detailed knowledge of Saddam's hiding places.
Eighteen other suspected guerrillas were arrested in seven overnight raids across north-central Iraq, Maj. Josslyn Aberle said.
She also said soldiers uncovered a large weapons cache 25 miles northeast of Tikrit (search), Saddam's hometown, on Sunday. It included two 20-foot-long missiles, 3,000 mortar rounds, 250 anti-tank rockets and almost 2,000 artillery rounds.
She said an Iraqi informant led soldiers to the cache.
Russell said a man tried to attack soldiers with a rocket-propelled grenade in downtown Tikrit, but soldiers killed him before he could fire.
"He was sneaking through an alley way and we engaged him. Soldiers saw him fall," Russell said, adding: "We will engage or kill anyone with RPGs."
U.S. military sources reported a failed raid last week near the northern city of Mosul to capture one of Saddam Hussein's most trusted aides and No. 6 on the U.S. list of most-wanted, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri.
The Governing Council asked the U.S. civilian administrator, L. Paul Bremer, to meet with it to discuss a job-creation plan. Creating jobs is seen as one of the most crucial tasks in reducing rising crime and restoring normalcy in Iraq.
In Diwaniyah, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad, Spanish Brig. Gen. Alfredo Cardona set up a base camp for troops from Spain, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic scheduled to arrive within weeks.
"We're repairing old barracks, setting up tents and installing air conditioners. We should be ready by Sept. 1," he said. He didn't let journalists tour the base.
Their arrival will let U.S. troops head home from the region.
But new U.S. troops prepared to deploy. The 10th Mountain Division at New York's Fort Drum said Wednesday it would deploy another 600 troops to Iraq. The entire 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, will "prepare for future contingencies as may be directed," the Army said.
In Baghdad, about 5,000 members of Iraq's Turkmen minority demonstrated in front of the main U.S. military and political base to demand broader representation for their ethnic minority in the U.S.-appointed governing council. Only one of the council's 25 members is Turkman.
The protesters, most of whom came by bus from heavily Turkman areas in northern Iraq, also accused Kurds of immigrating to traditionally Turkman areas.
Iraq has a tense mix of religions and ethnicities, and many minorities are worried about their treatment and influence in Iraq's still forming state.
The grandson of the late Iranian leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in Baghdad to set up a Shiite Muslim seminary movement, praised the U.S. war and said he hoped Iraq's newfound freedoms could spread to neighboring Iran. The grandson, Seyed Hussein Khomeini, has been critical of the Islamic revolution his grandfather led in 1979.
"As an Iranian, I see it as a liberation from oppression and dictatorship and tyranny which was never known before in history," he told Associated Press Television News. "This was their salvation from their suffering."
But the former chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq, Hans Blix, denounced the war in his strongest language yet, saying the United States had better options than war and questioning its logic that war was needed to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction.
"Personally, I found it peculiar that those who wanted to take military action could — with 100-percent certainty — know that the weapons existed, and at the same time turn out to have zero percent knowledge of where they were," Blix told a Swedish radio program.
The United States has yet to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, or to find their biggest prize, Saddam himself.
A series of raids have captured many of Saddam's top aides and killed his powerful sons Odai and Qusai, but Saddam has slipped away every time.