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Saddam Defense Minister Surrenders; Troops Come Under Fire

BY Admin  September 19, 2003 at 1:30 PM EST

After weeks of negotiating, former Gen. Sultan Hashim Ahmad surrendered to U.S. Maj. Gen. David Petraeus. The surrender was negotiated by local human rights official Dawood Bagistani, who said Ahmad was handed over “with great respect” and was with his family, the Associated Press reported.

Ahmad was number 27 on the most-wanted list, and the eight of hearts in the deck of playing cards of wanted Iraqis. Bagistani said Ahmad’s name would be removed from the list of the most-wanted, which means he will not face indefinite confinement.

The special treatment for Ahmad could be an effort to reduce the guerrilla-style attacks that have plagued U.S. soldiers. The attacks are thought to be carried out mostly by former Iraqi soldiers.

During the surrender, violence escalated in the village of Uja, Saddam’s birthplace, lasting from 8 p.m. Thursday local time until dawn Friday, AP reported.

U.S. troops faced the most coordinated attacks since they arrived in the area in April, according to a 4th Infantry Division spokeswoman. Soldiers were sealing off parts of Uja when a gunman in a white pickup truck opened fire on an observation post. A rocket and small arms fire followed, killing three Americans.

Fifty-eight Iraqi men were captured during the fighting, according to Col. James Hickey, commander of the division’s 1st Brigade.

“It is unusual. We have seen instances of coordinated attacks two times in the past out of the scores of ambushes. But this one was coordinated and this is something that is worrying us and we are paying attention to it,” Hickey said.

The U.S. military received warnings of an imminent attack, which helped capture the Iraqis, Hickey said.