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TIKRIT, Iraq (AP) -- Dozens of U.S. forces raided two houses in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit on Friday, capturing two men they said were important Saddam associates.
The soldiers from the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division did not identify the captives but said their arrests came in a continuing search for the fugitive former Iraqi dictator.
"These are important associates of the former regime," Lt. Col. Steve Russell said.
The military said 100 soldiers swept into the two houses at 4 p.m. and caught the men napping in the afternoon heat.
U.S. forces believed the capture of the men could bring them a step closer to catching up with Saddam.
"We believe the information they may possess will further help destroy the regime," Russell said.
U.S. forces have given mixed assessments over the past two weeks of their search for Saddam, with some commanders saying they were on the verge of capturing him and others trying to lower expectations, saying he will be caught at some point.
Military sources further north in the city of Mosul, meanwhile, said the Americans were now focusing on a band of Iraq stretching from the Tigris River to the Syrian border between Tikrit and Mosul.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)