Latest developments in the Iraq situation

  • U.S. forces captured a senior Republican Guard official, a day after killing Saddam Hussein's sons Odai and Qusai in a four-hour gunbattle. The head of the Special Republican Guard, Barzan Abd al-Ghafur Sulayman Majid al-Tikriti, was seized Wednesday at an undisclosed location in Iraq. He was 11th on the U.S. list of 55 most-wanted figures from the deposed regime.

    The bloody insurgency showed no signs of letting up, as attacks claimed the lives of two more American soldiers. A U.S. soldier was killed and six wounded in an attack on a convoy near Mosul, and a convoy was attacked in Ramadi, 60 miles west of the capital, killing one soldier and wounding two more. The deaths brought to 155 the number of Americans killed in action since the war began March 20.

    President Bush hailed the deaths of Saddam's sons as the clearest sign yet that "the former regime is gone and will not be coming back." But Bush also noted that "a few remaining holdouts" loyal to Saddam's government are complicating efforts to stabilize Iraq and advance freedom.

    The commander of coalition forces in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, said the deaths of the two sons "is definitely going to be a turning point for the resistance and the subversive elements that we are encountering." He warned, however, that there may be "a spike" in attacks on U.S. forces.

    Sanchez gave details of the raid that led to the deaths of the sons and two others. Ten Humvee-mounted TOW anti-tank missiles fired from Humvees had silenced most of the resistance, apparently killing the three adult suspects. The battle ended when soldiers stormed up the stairs to the barricaded second floor and shot the remaining suspect, apparently a teenager who he said was firing at them.

    World leaders expressed hope that the deaths of Odai and Qusai would ease violence in Iraq and help bring stability -- while some of the brothers' victims said they wished the two had been taken alive to stand trial, face their victims and suffer punishment for the horrors they inflicted on Iraq.

    BP PLC and Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Cos. each agreed to buy 10 million barrels of Iraqi oil under the first long-term contracts to be offered by Iraq since the end of the war, the companies said.-- Associated Press

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