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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Military Confirms Deaths of Hussein's Sons

Saddam Hussein's sons Odai and Qusai died in fierce gunfight when U.S. forces, acting on a tip from an Iraqi informant, stormed a palatial villa in northern Iraq.

Two other Iraqis and four coalition soldiers were wounded in the six-hour raid Tuesday, but Saddam Hussein was not among them. The house belonged to Nawaf al-Zaydan Muhhamad, a cousin of Hussein and a local tribal leader.

"We are certain that Odai and Qusai were killed today," U.S. Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez told reporters in Baghdad on Tuesday.

The identifying marks included Odai's scars from a 1996 assassination attempt, a senior U.S. defense official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Both Odai, 39, and Qusai, 37, ranked second only to their father in the deposed regime. They were Nos. 2 and 3 on the U.S. list of 55 top former Iraqi officials wanted by Washington.

The White House applauded the results of the military action.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said, "The Iraqi people are safer today."

Hussein's sons' deaths touched off celebratory gunfire in Baghdad and at least one southern city, and the U.S. military claimed their deaths would blunt Iraqi resistance to the American occupation of Iraq.

Sanchez said he thought the security situation now would improve.

Ahmad Chalabi, a delegate from Iraq's new Governing Council, agreed. "This will contribute significantly to reducing attacks on coalition soldiers," he said, speaking at the UN.

But Paul Bremer, the American who is Iraq's top civilian administrator, cautioned that "there will be some people who will be pretty unhappy that we killed these two guys."

On Wednesday, the day following the deaths of Odai and Qusai, two U.S. soldiers were killed in ambushes in Iraq, denting U.S. hopes that the deaths of the brothers would snuff out a guerrilla insurgency against occupying forces.

In addition, an audiotape, purportedly by Hussein and aired by Al Arabiya television, urged Iraqis to keep fighting U.S. forces. "The battle is not over yet," the taped message said.

The tape was dated July 20 -- two days before Odai and Qusai were killed.

U.S. officials had said they feared an upsurge in attacks as die-hard Hussein loyalists sought to avenge his sons. In Mosul, a dozen youths staged a brief pro-Hussein protest, waving his picture and chanting their loyalty to the death.

U.S. officials have blamed remnants of Hussein's Baath Party and Odai's feared Fedayeen militia for attacks.

But other groups have also claimed responsibility for the attacks, distancing themselves from Hussein's secular Iraqi nationalism and embracing the Islamist, anti-American slogans of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network.

Many ordinary Iraqis who say they hated Hussein have called upon the Americans to go home, accusing them of failing to restore order and of assaulting Iraqis during house-to-house searches.

Amnesty International said in a report Wednesday that Iraqis detained by U.S. troops had complained of torture and degrading treatment. The human rights watchdog also claimed that some Iraqi detainees have been executed by U.S. soldiers.

After the firefight in which the two Hussein sons were killed, about 1,000 people gathered outside the smoldering villa, some expressing delight, others cursing the Americans.

A U.S. defense official said that when U.S. troops entered the home's ground floor, they came under fire from four people holed up on the second floor. The home's second floor had been hardened against attack with bulletproof glass, the official said. The U.S. soldiers then called in an Apache attack helicopter, which fired several missiles into the building, the official said.

Some Mosul civilians appeared to have been caught in the crossfire. It was not known how many were injured, but several were taken to a hospital.

Odai and Qusai's bodies were taken to a U.S. base at Baghdad International Airport on 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 where to.

Neighborhood residents protested the attack, claiming the Americans had killed three civilians. The military has not mentioned the death of any bystanders.

But it was reported that one U.S. army unit, thinking it was coming under fire, shot a man twice in the chest and a girl who looked to be between 6 and 8 years old once in the head.

Later in the day Wednesday, U.S. forces captured Barzan Abd al-Ghafur Sulayman Majid al-Tikriti, commander of Hussein's Republican Guard and No. 11 on a list of Washington's 55 most wanted Iraqis, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq said. (AP, Reuters)