President Bush said Wednesday, ”Now more than ever Iraqis can know that the former regime is gone and will not be coming back.”
A special forces unit killed the two Hussein brothers, notorious for ordering the torture and murder of thousands of Iraqis, in a four-hour gunbattle Tuesday in the northern city of Mosul.
Officials quickly ordered testing of the bodies and said they identified the brothers through dental records, X-rays and visual identification by the brothers’ former aides.
“We have no doubt that we have the bodies of Uday and Qusay,” U.S. commander Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez told reporters Tuesday.
Officials also used X-rays of older brother Uday?s injuries, sustained in a 1996 attempt on his life, to identify his body.
U.S. officials said the bodies, now being held at a U.S. military base in Baghdad, will undergo autopsies and will be flown out of Iraq.
Sanchez cautioned that while the deaths of Uday and Qusay marked a step forward in the effort to capture Saddam’s remaining regime members, they might also lead to “a spike” in attacks against U.S. troops stationed in the postwar country. And attacks did continue on Wednesday, with two more Americans killed in separate ambushes.
Some Iraqis have expressed regret that Uday and Qusay died without facing trial for their crimes. Altogether, Saddam’s regime is thought to have been responsible for the deaths of about 300,000 people.
“We are happy for this, but we hoped that they would have been captured instead of killed so that they could have been tried by the Iraqi people,” 22-year-old Jassim Jabar told the Associated Press Tuesday. “I hope Saddam will face the same fate soon.”
Sanchez defended Tuesday’s operation as the “right decision.”
“Our mission was find, kill or capture,” he said. “We had an enemy that was barricaded, and we had to take measures to neutralize the target.”
Sanchez said the U.S. would pay the $30 million reward offered for the capture of the two sons but did not say to whom the money would go.
U.S. troops have yet to capture Saddam, thought to be hiding out in Iraq since the fall of his regime in April.
On Wednesday U.S. forces did announce the capture of another senior member of the Baath regime, Barzan Abd al-Ghafur Sulayman Majid al-Tikriti, the former commander of Saddam’s Special Republican Guard. The U.S. has now captured or killed 37 of the 55 most-wanted.
Also on Wednesday, Arab satellite television, Al-Arabiya, released a tape recording, supposedly made by Saddam Hussein two days before the deaths of his sons, urging Iraqis to continue the fight against U.S. troops.