MOSUL, Iraq – Saddam Hussein’s sons Odai and Qusai were killed in a six-hour firefight Tuesday when U.S. forces, acting on a tip from an Iraqi informant, surrounded and then stormed a palatial villa in this northern Iraqi town, a senior American general said.
Four coalition soldiers were wounded and two other Iraqis were killed in the raid, but Saddam was not among them. The house belonged to one of Saddam’s cousins, a key tribal leader in the region.
“We are certain that Odai and Qusai were killed today,” said Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez at a news conference in Baghdad. “The bodies were in such a condition where you could identify them.”
The deaths of the sons could have a major impact on the Iraqi resistance, which has been mounting about a dozen attacks a day against U.S. occupation troops. The guerrillas are thought to be former military officers and Baath Party leaders loyal to Saddam and his family — especially the sons, who played primary roles in the military and feared security services.
Both Odai and Qusai ranked second only to their father in the deposed regime, officials have said. They were Nos. 2 and 3 on the U.S. list of 55 top former Iraqi officials wanted by Washington. The United States had offered a $25 million reward for information leading to Saddam’s capture and $15 million each for his sons.
In Washington, L. Paul Bremer, Iraq’s top civilian administrator, said he did not want to comment on how the deaths of Saddam’s sons would affect security in Iraq.
However, Bremer said: “It certainly is good news for the Iraqi people.”
“This will contribute significantly to reducing attacks on coalition soldiers,” said Ahmad Chalabi, a delegate from the Coalition Provisional Authority, speaking at the United Nations.