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Iraq

Hussein adviser, No. 17 on most-wanted list, captured

By Times Wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 15, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Coalition forces said Saturday they had captured former Iraqi air force commander Hamid Raja Shalah al-Tikriti, who was No. 17 on the U.S. Central Command's most-wanted list.

A brief U.S. military statement gave no details about the arrest of the man who is the 10 of spades in the coalition's deck of cards. Thirty-one of the 55 most-wanted suspects have been captured.

The former commander, who is in his late 50s, is from Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit and was close to the ousted Iraqi president's family. He was one of the Iraqi military commanders seen meeting regularly with Hussein before the U.S.-led war started March 20.

The pilot and three-star general was appointed commander-in-chief of the Iraqi air force during the mid 1990s. Before this year's U.S.-led war started, the commander advised Hussein the Iraqi air force would be prepared to fight and defeat invading coalition forces.

But the Iraqi air force played no role during the war.

Only about 1,000 weapons turned in during amnesty

BAGHDAD, Iraq - An amnesty period for Iraqis to hand in their heavy weaponry or face arrest by coalition forces ended in failure Saturday night, with barely more than a thousand guns and explosives being surrendered in a nation awash in a sea of lethal arms.

The two-week amnesty, part of a larger U.S. effort to rid Iraq's streets of gunmen and reduce lawlessness in the country, was trumpeted on Baghdad radio broadcasts and touted on handbills distributed to remote villages.

But it is clear that nearly two months after major combat ended in Iraq, many ordinary citizens don't feel safe enough from crime to give up their private arsenals.

Over the past 14 days, only about 650 rifles, pistols and machine guns have been collected in the Weapons Turn-In Program, which began June 1. About 400 grenades, rockets and missiles also were recovered.

The new coalition gun policy that goes into effect today allows Iraqis to keep assault rifles such as Kalashnikovs in their businesses or homes. Anything more lethal is banned.

Seven, not 27, killed in attack, military says

BALAD, Iraq - An attack on Iraqis by U.S. troops after an American tank patrol was ambushed Friday morning killed seven people, not 27 as reported, U.S. military officials said Saturday, and Iraqi witnesses said five of the victims were not involved in the ambush.

Lt. Col. Andy Fowler, commander of the 7th Cavalry unit that was ambushed with rocket-propelled grenades and a remote-controlled land mine, said a statement issued Friday by U.S. Central Command saying 27 Iraqis had been killed was based on his "initial estimates." Fowler adjusted the number to "seven confirmed dead."

Two, Fowler said, were dressed in the black pants and shirts typical of the Fedayeen Saddam, a militia loyal to former president Saddam Hussein. Witnesses said those two were likely among the assailants who attacked the tank patrol.

The other five victims, according to witnesses and relatives, were an elderly shepherd, his three sons and one son-in-law.

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