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America At War

''Leadership Target'' hit, Hussein Presence Possible

The inside of a Baghdad presidential palace that was captured by the American military on April 7. (AP Photo) The inside of a Baghdad presidential palace that was captured by the American military on April 7. (AP Photo)
The GBU-31 JDAM 2,000-lb. bombs loaded on a B-1B Air Force bomber. (USAF) The GBU-31 JDAM 2,000-lb. bombs loaded on a B-1B Air Force bomber. (USAF)

April 7, 2003
Posted at: 9:24 p.m. CDT

BAGHDAD -- The United States struck a "leadership target" in Baghdad Monday, based on information that one or more of the top government or military leaders in Saddam Hussein's regime were there, military officials said.

The strike was the result of time-sensitive intelligence, meaning information which needed to be acted on quickly, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The military officials said they did not know the identity of the target of the strike, or whether the target or targets had been killed.

Coalition strikes have aimed at top Iraqi leaders since the beginning of the war. U.S. and British troops have invaded at least four of Saddam's many palaces in recent days, including two in Baghdad Monday, looking for information, including clues to where he and his inner circle might be.

On March 19, President Bush authorized a strike on a suburban Baghdad compound where Saddam and his sons were believed to be staying. That strike, like Monday's attack, was based on time-sensitive intelligence.

For days after the initial strike, U.S. officials sorted through intelligence suggesting Saddam may have been killed or injured, but intelligence officials have become increasingly confident he survived that strike.

Earlier Monday, U.S. and British officials said they believed Saddam's top commander in southern Iraq had been killed in a U.S. airstrike.

American warplanes bombed a home in Basra where Saddam's cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid, was believed to be staying. That attack, too, was based on a time-sensitive tip. Al-Majid was a former Iraqi defense chief whose enemies called him "Chemical Ali" for his role in 1988 chemical weapons attacks on Iraqi Kurds.

Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, showed a video clip of the attack at a Pentagon news conference Monday.

"We believe that the reign of terror of Chemical Ali has come to an end. To Iraqis who have suffered at his hand, particularly in the last few weeks in that southern part of the country, he will never again terrorize you or your families," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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