The U.S. military in Iraq says it believes one of Saddam Hussein's closest aides
is directly involved in some of the attacks perpetrated against coalition forces.
The coalition's new military spokesman, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, said
U.S. forces have intensified their search for Saddam Hussein's deputy Izzat Ibrahim
The former leader of Saddam's Revolutionary Command Council is number six
on the U.S. list of the 55 most-wanted Iraqis. "We're getting more intelligence
that suggests he was directly implicated in the killing of some coalition soldiers.
Are we any closer [to capturing him]? We're getting closer every day," said
General Kimmitt says the U.S. military is continuing a series of offensive
operations it began last week in and around Saddam's hometown of Tikrit.
During a pre-dawn attack Monday, American troops fired tanks and mortars
at positions which commanders said were being used by insurgents to attack
soldiers. General Kimmitt says six insurgents were killed in the assault.
He also says U.S. soldiers in the city of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, have also
arrested Kazim Mohammed Faris, a suspected organizer of Saddam Fedayeen fighters
responsible for anti-coalition violence.
The U.S. military says it has adopted the new aggressive policy to match
what it calls "clear changes in the enemy's tactics." More than 80 coalition
troops have been killed this month in Iraq, including 17 soldiers who died
Saturday when two U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopters collided and crashed in the
northern city of Mosul.
There is still no official word on what caused the crashes. But eyewitnesses
say one of helicopters may have been hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.
Meanwhile, violence claimed the lives of two more American soldiers Monday,
north of Baghdad. One soldier was killed and two wounded in a rocket-propelled
grenade attack. A few minutes later, another soldier was killed by a homemade
bomb in the same area.
On Sunday, an audio tape, claiming to be the voice of Saddam Hussein, was
broadcast on the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television station. The speaker urged
Iraqis to wage a holy war against coalition forces.
The Central Intelligence Agency says it is not clear whether the tape is