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Top Iraqi Leaders Captured; Crude Oil Flowing in Iraq

Top Iraqi Leaders Captured; Crude Oil Flowing in Iraq

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(AP) -- American forces in Iraq have captured four top officials of Saddam Hussein's former government. They include the air defense force commander and the former head of military intelligence.

The highest-ranking official in the group is Muzahim Sa'b Hassan al-Tikriti, who headed Iraq's air defenses under Saddam. He was number ten on the U-S list of the top 55 most wanted officials from Saddam Hussein's regime and the Queen of Diamonds.

General Zuhayr Talib Abd al-Sattar al-Naqib, the former head of the Directorate of Military Intelligence, surrendered to U-S troops. Naqib was number 21 on the most wanted list and was the Seven of Hearts. Also captured was Muhammad Mahdi al-Salih, the former Iraqi trade minister and number 48 on the most wanted list. He was the Six of Hearts.

The latest captures bring to eleven the number of top former Iraqi officials in U-S custody.

Meantime, engineers began restoring the lifeblood of Iraq's shattered economy Wednesday, pumping crude oil for the first time since the war. Although the oil is not for export, the quick startup means one of Iraq's largest fields could be back to prewar production levels within weeks. It will take three days of treatment to turn the oil into fuel that will be distributed across southern Iraq.


Here are other key developments in Iraq:

-- A commander of coalition forces in Iraq says it's "no surprise" searches haven't turned up any weapons of mass destruction. Lieutenant General David McKiernan says U-S forces are putting aside a list of suspected sites drafted before the war, believing the best tips will come from the Iraqis themselves.

-- Dozens of retired Iraqi military leaders have pledged to help the United States restore order to the northern city of Mosul, where violence drew Marines into confrontations that killed 17 Iraqis last week.

-- The retired U-S general charged with leading efforts to reconstruct Iraq says discontent among Iraqis is high in the chaos that has followed the toppling of Saddam Hussein. But Jay Garner says he expects anti-Americanism to abate as work to restart the economy and establish democracy takes hold.

-- Baghdad's self-proclaimed rulers said Wednesday they will use Iraqi government funds to pay all state employees their salaries this month -- with a one-thousand-percent raise. They're taking credit for progress in getting power, water and hospitals back up and running. U-S officials say they don't even know who these people are.

-- The U-S military is keeping watch on various factions in Iraq that could disrupt peace efforts. The commander of coalition forces in Iraq says there are various "competing interests" -- including Iranian agents who want to influence a new Iraqi government.

-- Thousands of Shiite Muslims took advantage of their newfound freedom to hold a political protest Wednesday, railing at the United States and Israel. It came amid an emotional pilgrimage that has drawn an estimated one (m) million Shiite Muslims to the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf.

-- Iraqi Shiites are fast filling the power vacuum left by the ouster of Saddam Hussein. They're organizing local committees, doling out funds to pay salaries, collecting looted property and sending militias to secure hospitals and electric plants.

-- Dozens of protesters blocked U-S Marines trying to cross the main bridge over the Tigris River in the southern Iraqi city of Kut Wednesday. The more than four-hour standoff was sparked by the detentions of two local leaders by U-S forces.

-- Power has been restored to parts of Baghdad -- about one-fifth of the city -- for the first time in three weeks.

-- Iraqi doctors have reported the first suspected cases of cholera and typhoid, blamed on the lack of clean running water.

-- British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon toured the port city of Umm Qasr, becoming the first senior coalition politician to visit Iraq.

-- U-S soldiers have found 112 (m) million dollars in U-S currency inside seven dog kennels in a wealthy Baghdad neighborhood where top Baath Party and Republican Guard officials once lived.

-- Massive arms stockpiles that were abandoned by Iraqi forces -- and cleaned out by scavengers -- have put automatic weapons in the hands of anyone in Iraq who has money to pay. A-K-47's and Beretta submachine guns are going for as little as ten dollars, and gun-sellers have popped up in regular markets.


-- Egypt's president is calling for less of an American and British presence in Iraq -- and more of a United Nations presence. Hosni Mubarak says coalition forces must quickly restore law and order, then pull out and let the U-N handle rebuilding Iraq and restoring civil rule.

-- The first group of U-N international staff returned to northern Iraq by land on Wednesday after waiting for more than a week for clearance to fly in. The six-member team includes the UNICEF and World Food Program coordinators for the area. Another group is expected Thursday.

-- U-N Secretary-General Kofi Annan says U-N inspectors must be the ones to search for and identify weapons in post-war Iraq, unless the U-N Security Council votes otherwise. The hunt now is being conducted exclusively by the United States.

Coalition Casualties

-- Three Marines were killed and seven injured in an accident in Iraq on Tuesday while they were handling a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. U-S Central Command says the Marines were firing the R-P-G to familiarize themselves with it when the launcher malfunctioned.

-- Prior to the latest deaths in the grenade accident, the Pentagon said 128 U-S troops had been killed in the war.

-- Britain says 32 of its troops have died during the Iraq war. Accidents and "friendly fire" accounted for 22 of those deaths.

Iraq Thefts

-- U-S authorities say several members of the media and a U-S serviceman have been caught attempting to ship Iraqi paintings, weapons and other war souvenirs to America. The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection says at least 15 paintings, gold-plated firearms, ornamental knives, bonds and other items have been seized at airports in Atlanta, Boston, London and Washington in the last week.

-- Federal officials are charging a Fox T-V news engineer with smuggling stolen Iraqi paintings and monetary bonds. Fox News Channel says it fired the engineer after learning he had admitted taking the paintings.

-- U-S military detectives say five U-S troops are under investigation in the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars from money hidden near Saddam Hussein's palace complexes in central Baghdad.

Capitol Tours

-- Public tours of the U-S Capitol building will resume later this week. House Administration Committee Chairman Bob Ney says with the war in Iraq winding down and a lowered threat level, security officials will be able to handle additional visitors. The tours had been stopped when the war started.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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