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2003: Saddam's sons killed in gun battle

The United States says the two sons of Saddam Hussein, Uday and Qusay, have been killed by US troops in Iraq.

The bodies of the two men were identified after 200 American soldiers, backed by helicopters, stormed a house in the northern city of Mosul following a tip-off from an Iraqi informant.

The operation in Mosul lasted for more than four hours. US troops came under fire as they entered the villa in the northern part of Mosul, and the Americans responded with rocket fire from helicopter gunships.

Four US soldiers were wounded in the fighting.

Celebrations

Uday and Qusay were among the most influential and feared figures in Saddam Hussein's regime.

Reports of their deaths were welcomed with celebrations on the streets of Baghdad, and gunfire erupted across the city.

However, there remains some scepticism over the identity of the bodies among Iraqi civilians, with many expressing doubt about the reported deaths.

American officials were quick to insist they had the right men.

"We've used multiple sources to identify the individuals," said the commander of coalition ground forces in Iraq, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez.

He would not be drawn on the question of whether the US would produce evidence, such as photos or video of the dead brothers.

The US does not normally publish pictures of dead combatants.

America's most wanted

Qusay, 36, was being groomed as Saddam Hussein's heir, and controlled key areas of the country's security.

Uday, 39, ran large sections of the media. He was known for his extreme brutality and for the extravagance of his playboy lifestyle.

The two men have been on the run since the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime three months ago.

Saddam Hussein himself remains at large.

Two other people were killed along with the former Iraqi president's sons. They have not been named, but reports say one may be a teenage son of one of the brothers, and the other a bodyguard.

The Iraqi who apparently tipped off the US military stands to gain at least part of two rewards placed on the heads of Uday and Qusay, each with 15 million ($9.4m).

The two were second and third on America's most-wanted list of the top 55 Iraqis involved in Saddam Hussein's administration.

In Context
After intense debate in Washington, the US released photos of the two corpses on 24 July, and allowed television crews to film them on 25 July.

A third casualty of the gunfight was confirmed as Qusay Hussein's 14-year-old son, Mustafa.

The killing of Saddam Hussein's sons was the first major breakthrough for coalition forces following the fall of Baghdad three months earlier

It was followed by the capture of Saddam Hussein himself in December 2003.

The country was run by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), headed by American diplomat Paul Bremer until 28 June 2004 when power was officially handed back to Iraq.


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