WASHINGTON March 31 —
U.S. intelligence sources have been unable to confirm that Saddam
Hussein survived the March 19 strike on a bunker where he was
believed to be staying, a top Pentagon general said Monday.
That information comes from the same intelligence sources that
pinpointed Saddam's location before the airstrike, said Gen. Peter
Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"That doesn't mean he's dead, but he's not visible publicly and
he's not been seen or reported to have been seen by anybody," Pace
said on PBS' "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer."
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other Pentagon officials
have made much in recent days of the fact that Saddam hasn't been
seen in public since the airstrike.
Iraqi television has shown several video clips of Saddam,
including some speeches in which he apparently refers to fighting
during the war. Video broadcast Monday showed him with his sons Oday
and Qusay in a meeting with top military commanders but there was no
way to verify when it was taped.
The top Iraqi leaders who have appeared publicly have insisted
that Saddam is alive and directing his country's war effort.
Pace's comments Monday were the strongest indication yet from
Washington that the March 19 airstrike may have killed the Iraqi
leader. The United States struck the bunker with Tomahawk cruise
missiles and a new kind of satellite-guided, bunker-busting bomb
known as the EGBU-27.
Iraqi military units, including those of Saddam's elite
Republican Guard, are showing no signs they are getting orders from
top Iraqi leaders, Pace said, echoing what other U.S. military
officials have been saying for days.
"There's no evidence of coordinated actions on the battlefield by
these units," Pace said. "They're being destroyed in place without
much leadership from above."
Pace and Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said Monday there
were reports that some of Saddam's closest relatives were trying to
leave Iraq. Rumsfeld mentioned such reports in interviews
Some U.S. officials characterized those reports as unconfirmed
rumors, including a specific report that Saddam's first wife was
fleeing for Syria. The officials, who spoke on the condition of
anonymity, also said they have reports that the Iraqi regime has let
it be known to Baghdad elites that they are to remain in the
|British 40 Commando Royal
Marines patrol in Abu Al Khasib, Iraq, past a large portrait
of Saddam Hussein, Monday March 31 2003. Under cover from
smoke shells fired by British gunners, Royal Marines mopped up
the last resistance Sunday from Saddam Hussein loyalists in
Abu Al Khasib, the strategic suburb of Iraq's second city,
Basra. (AP Photo/Terry Richards,
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