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Two U.S. Soldiers Killed Despite Deaths of Saddam's Sons

Two U.S. Soldiers Killed Despite Deaths of Saddam's Sons

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MOSUL, Iraq (AP) -- Hopes that the killing of Saddam Hussein's sons Odai and Qusai by U.S. soldiers would calm a bloody insurgency were dimmed Wednesday after attacks claimed the lives of two American soldiers.

A new tape aired by an Arab satellite TV broadcaster and purportedly made by Saddam on July 20, two-days before Saddam's sons perished in a four-hour gunbattle here, called on fighters loyal to him to persist in their uprising against the U.S.-led occupation force.

American soldiers on patrol in Tarmiyah, a town 30 miles north of Baghdad, were elated by the news of the deaths of Saddam's eldest sons.

"This is the best thing that can happen to the coalition," said Army Capt. Sean C. Nowlan, 31, of the Fort Carson, Colo.-based 4th Infantry Division. "It deflates their campaign against us."

But the euphoria was short-lived.

On Wednesday, a U.S. soldier was killed and six wounded in an attack on a convoy near Mosul, the same northern town were Odai and Qusai died, the military reported. In a separate incident Tuesday night, a convoy was attacked in Ramadi, 60 miles west of the capital, killing one soldier and wounding two more.

The two deaths brought to 155 the number of American soldiers killed since the war began March 20, surpassing by eight the death toll in the 1991 Gulf War.

In the tape, Saddam purportedly said: "Yes, this war has not ended. ... The will of the people will not be subdued by the enemy."

There was no way to immediately and independently verify it was the former dictator, although it sounded like him.

Commenting on the tape, Mohammed al-Douri, Iraq's former ambassador to the United Nations, said it was Saddam but that he no long has any significant influence in the country.

"It is an attempt on behalf of Saddam Hussein to tell the Iraqi people and the world that he is still there," he said. "This is his voice, Saddam is there, but I do not think that he has any effective role over the Iraqi people."

An American commander said the person who tipped U.S. forces to the presence of the brothers was in protective custody in Iraq.

When asked why, Col. Joe Anderson, commander of the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, said: "People know who owns the house, so that's a factor," Anderson said, refusing to say if the tipster and the owner of the villa were the same person.

The house belonged to Nawaf al-Zaydan Muhhamad, a Saddam cousin and tribal leader in the region.

Across the street from the vast villa where Odai and Qusai Hussein were killed in a joint operation by the 101st Airborne Division and U.S. Special Forces, Seed Badr, 50, a gray-bearded taxi driver wearing a blue Arab robe, cursed the Americans.

"This is terrorism. They are killers."

Asked what he thought of the operation to kill Odai and Qusai, Badr responded: "I think the house was empty."

Some Mosul residents said Mosul's reputation as a safe, quiet place likely drew the brothers to hide out in the villa of a Saddam cousin.

"They probably came here because it's safe. People here don't have any connection with Saddam," said 36-year-old businessman Muhammad Khalil, as he stood outside the remains of the three-story home.

There was no evidence the brothers were directly guiding the guerrilla war against against U.S. forces, with attacks averaging 12 daily. Knowledge that they were still alive, however, was believed to have been a significant factor for the resistance, which hoped to wear down the coalition occupation.

The brothers' deaths Tuesday were expected by many analysts to be a major blow to the resistance movement.

Several dozen U.S. soldiers relaxed in front of the gutted mansion, their weapons mostly pointed toward the ground. There were 12 Humvees and an armored troop carrier, but no Bradley fighting vehicles or tanks.

The bodies of Odai and Qusai -- long feared by most Iraqis for their roles in the military and intelligence arms of Saddam's brutal dictatorship -- were taken to the Baghdad International Airport base of American forces Wednesday to be flown out of the country, U.S. officials said. They would not say why the bodies were being taken out of Iraq or to where.

The mansion in Mosul sits in a neighborhood of sprawling villas and opposite a mosque. A house across the street also was damaged, along with 10 to 12 others nearby.

The Army strung a helix of razor wire around the perimeter of the villa. Outside a few hundred people gathered, chanting: "We sacrifice our blood and souls for you, Saddam" when television cameras arrived.

Asked whether he thought the killings of his sons meant Saddam soon would be found, Khalil said: "One should be close to the other."

Mohammad Ali, 15, said he witnessed the raid, hiding in a nearby alley.

Four Humvees went to the villa at about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Soldiers were told the villa owner was not there. He returned shortly afterward and was arrested, Ali said.

Then the Americans blew down a garden gate with a grenade and were pushed back when someone inside threw a grenade at them.

Shooting began on both sides and the U.S. forces called in Kiowa helicopters.

Four of them hovered low over the neighborhood and fired rockets into the house. Ali said the entire operation was over by about 1:30 p.m.

He said neighborhood residents protested shortly after, claiming the Americans killed three civilians in the attack. The military has not mentioned the death of any bystanders.

Across Iraq, U.S. soldiers said they hoped guerrilla attacks would diminish, but others feared Saddam remnants might seek revenge.

The Hussein brothers were Nos. 2 and 3 on the U.S. list of most 55 most-wanted from the toppled Saddam regime. Guerrilla holdouts loyal to the regime have been attacking U.S. forces at a rate of about 12 times daily in an effort to wear down the American occupation and drive it from the country.

"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, said while patrolling the dangerous "Sunni Triangle," a bastion of Saddam backers stretching north and west from Baghdad.

Iraqis in Baghdad marked the news of the deaths with celebratory gunfire Tuesday, shooting wildly into the night sky, red tracer bullets screaming skyward. There was no report of any fighting between coalition troops and Iraqis.

As Odai, 39, and Qusai, 37, were discovered in Mosul, a town known for its pro-Saddam attitudes, four coalition soldiers were wounded. Two other Iraqis, including a teenager, were killed. The teen was thought to have been Qusai's son, Mustafa. The other man was believed to have been a bodyguard, U.S. officials said.

Coalition commander Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez said the bodies of Odai and Qusai were positively identified, but said DNA testing would be done. He has not said when the results would be available.

Both Odai (pronounced oh-DEYE) and Qusai (pronounced koh-SEYE) ranked second only to their father in the deposed regime. The United States had offered a $25 million reward for information leading to Saddam's capture and $15 million each for his sons.

L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator of Iraq, said in Washington that he looked forward to handing someone a $30 million check.

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

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