U.S. special forces today captured a half brother of Saddam Hussein who, according to one American commander, has "extensive knowledge" of the toppled regime's inner workings.
Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, in a briefing at U.S. Central Command, said Barzan Ibrahim Hasan, a top adviser to Saddam, was captured alone in Baghdad. No casualties were sustained by the special forces or the U.S. Marines who provided support.
Brooks declined to give details about the capture, but said it resulted from a tip provided by an Iraqi. The U.S.-led coalition is "relentlessly pursuing the scattered members of a fractured regime," Brooks said.
Riot in Baghdad
In Baghdad, a riot broke out today outside a bank after robbers blew a hole in the vault and dropped children through the opening to bring out cash. Hearing that the robbery was under way, hundreds of people converged on the bank, demanding that the thieves give them the money.
Guns were fired, and a U.S. Army unit arrived, arresting a dozen men inside the bank while many in the crowd chanted their approval. The U.S. soldiers recovered about $4 million in U.S. currency, which they took away in burlap bags for safekeeping.
In three cities in northern Iraq, including Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, gunbattles and ethnic feuding were complicating reconstruction efforts.
U.S. officials said members of Saddam's clan in Tikrit twice attacked people from outlying villages coming to warehouses in search of food. Each time Marines intervened to disarm the attackers and separate the sides, said Lt. Col. Freddie Blish of Marine Wing Support Group 37.
In Mosul, the largest city in the north, U.S. commanders tried to ease anti-American anger after two days of confrontations involving U.S. Marines. Local hospital officials say 17 Iraqis died and at least 17 others were injured in the clashes.
The U.S. Central Command, while acknowledging a gunbattle Tuesday that killed about seven Iraqis, had no immediate comment on a second day of violence reported Wednesday by Mosul residents and hospital personnel.
Hospitals said 14 people died Tuesday. Three more Iraqis were reported fatally shot Wednesday and 17 wounded.
"They are killing us, and no one's talking about it," Zahra Yassin said at a hospital with her wounded son. "We want Saddam back. At least there was security."
In Kirkuk, the second-largest city in the north, Arab families complained that they have been forced out of their homes by a group of Kurds claiming ownership in the largely Kurdish city.
The new Kurdish occupants took over in the confusion immediately after the April 10 collapse of Saddam's authority in Kirkuk. They claim the land was theirs before Saddam evicted them in the 1980s.
Kurds have long vowed to return to their lost lands and homes once Kirkuk was freed. Kurdish leaders have sought to assure the United States and Arab countries that the process of return would be a lawful one.
But Arabs claim the Kurds have been taking the law into their own hands.
"If this humiliation against us continues, we are going to defend our properties and our homes ourselves," said Seyed Aqel Musawi, a civic leader in one of the Arab neighborhoods where homes have been seized.
Order in Baghdad
In Baghdad, U.S. troops and Iraqi police broadened their efforts to restore law and order in a city plagued by widespread looting since Saddam's regime collapsed. A Marine unit went on an overnight patrol in one of the capital's roughest neighborhoods and exchanged fire at one point with suspected looters, one of whom died of his wounds today.
At Baghdad's police academy, motorists formed a line outside the front gate after word spread that some recently stolen cars had been recovered by the newly re-formed police force.
The top war commander, Gen. Tommy Franks lit a cigar and strolled through the glittering splendor of one of Saddam's bombed-out palaces in Baghdad on Wednesday, sitting in the gilded chairs and looking with obvious disgust at the gold toilet-paper dispenser and the gold-handled toilet bowl brush.
"It's the oil-for-palace program," he said in a mocking reference to Iraq's alleged misuse of a U.N. oil-for-food program that was supposed to turn oil revenue into humanitarian aid.
Franks said today that 2,200 civilians in Baghdad have volunteered to serve as police officers.
"The looting goes down every day, and I think you will continue to see it go down because the Iraqis are now stepping up and controlling the problems for themselves," Franks said.
The Security Council will take up the thorny issue of lifting U.N. sanctions against Iraq next week, and diplomats say the debate is likely to be long and difficult despite U.S. requests for quick action.
With the U.S.-led coalition now in control of almost all of Iraq, President Bush urged the United Nations on Wednesday to lift sanctions that have choked Iraq's economy for nearly 13 years.
But lifting the sanctions is linked to U.N. certification that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction have been destroyed -- and that issue is part of a broader debate on what the U.N. role will be in Iraq. The sanctions question also hinges on the sensitive issue of the return of U.N. weapons inspectors.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.