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Former POWs return to bases

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Chief Warrant Officer David Williams, right, a former POW, meets his family after arriving at Biggs Army Airfield at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas.

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Seven U.S. soldiers once POWs of Iraqi forces are on their way home. (April 19)
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FORT BLISS, Texas (CNN) -- A C-17 cargo plane carrying seven U.S. soldiers once held as prisoners of war in Iraq arrived at Fort Bliss just after 7:30 p.m. [9:30 p.m. EDT] Saturday to a cheering crowd and waving American flags.

It marked the soldiers' first time back in the United States since they were deployed.

Two former POWs -- Spec. Joseph Hudson and Pfc. Patrick Miller -- waved an American flag through an open hatch atop the plane while it was taxied on the runway. A large crowd of well-wishers cheered them on.

The C-17 left Germany on Saturday morning on the 13-hour trip. The soldiers had been recuperating at a U.S. military medical facility in Germany.

Five of the soldiers are members of the 507th Maintenance Company from Fort Bliss, which took a wrong turn and was ambushed outside Nasiriya, Iraq, March 23. (Slide Show: Relatives learn POWs are freed)

They are: Spc. Shoshana Johnson of El Paso, Texas; Spc. Edgar Hernandez of Mission, Texas; Hudson of Alamogordo, New Mexico; Miller of Walter, Kansas; and Sgt. James Riley of Pennsauken, New Jersey. (Gallery: The rescued POWs)

Two of the returning soldiers then continued on to Fort Hood, Texas, where they are based, about 600 miles to the east. Hundreds of members of the 4th Aviation Brigade, 1st Cavalry stood in formation to meet chief warrant officers Ronald Young and David Williams, giving them loud cries of "How-ah!"

They arrived just before 11:45 p.m. [12:45 a.m. EDT] to the cheers of the 1st Cavalry Division.

The seven soldiers were rescued by U.S. troops April 13 after nearly three weeks of captivity.

Iraqi police help arrest ex-Saddam official

In Baghdad, Iraqi police arrested a top official of Saddam Hussein's regime and turned him over to U.S. troops, Central Command said Saturday.

It marked the first time the newly re-established Iraqi police force, built with the help of U.S. Marines, has helped apprehend one of the U.S. military's "most-wanted" Iraqi leaders.

Hikmat Mizban Ibrahim al Azzawi, Iraq's former deputy prime minister and finance minister, was arrested Friday at the home of one his relatives on a tip from an Iraqi citizen, and was turned over to U.S. Marines in Baghdad, U.S. military officials said.

Azzawi might provide the whereabouts about huge stashes of money Saddam's regime hid, U.S. military officials said.

Azzawi is the eight of diamonds in the deck of playing cards distributed to U.S. troops to help identify wanted regime officials. He is No. 45 on the 55-most-wanted list, which is arranged in descending order of importance. (Full story) Five of the 55 are in custody.

The United States is hoping they will help locate other regime members and possible weapons of mass destruction.

Pentagon officials told CNN that Kamal Mustafa Abdallah Sultan al-Tikriti, Iraq's former secretary of the Republican Guard and Special Republican Guard, is one of several senior Iraqi leaders believed to have escaped from Iraq into Syria. (Full story)

Kamal Sultan is No. 8 on the most-wanted list and the queen of clubs in the deck of cards.

The U.S. considers him a war crimes suspect. Intelligence officials said his brother is married to one of Saddam's daughters.

Although officials noted conflicting reports about his whereabouts, they said most evidence suggests that he is in Syria.

Other developments

• Four U.S. soldiers of the Army 101st Airborne Division were injured Saturday in Baghdad when a child tried to give them a piece of ordnance that accidentally detonated, according to Central Command. The soldiers and the child were wounded.

• At least 20 antiquities suspected of being looted from Baghdad's National Museum of Iraq were seized by Jordanian officials at the Iraqi border, according to a source in Jordan's Information Ministry.

• President Bush is scheduled to travel Sunday to Fort Hood for an Easter church service with troops. (Full story)

• The international aid group Doctors Without Borders said Saturday that "huge needs" remain throughout Iraq, but the situation is "not really a catastrophe. I think the major problem has been, in fact, security and also lack of staff, because people have not really come back to the hospitals to work," spokesman Morten Rostrup told CNN.

• U.S. officials told CNN that the man believed to have led Iraq's program to produce VX nerve gas turned himself in to U.S. authorities Friday. Imad Hussayn al Ani was not one of the top wanted Iraqi officials. Al Ani denied any knowledge about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs, officials said.

-- CNN correspondents Ben Wedeman, Christiane Amanpour, Jim Clancy, Michael Holmes, Tom Mintier, Nic Robertson, Barbara Starr, Jamie McIntyre and David Ensor contributed to this report.

EDITOR'S NOTE: CNN's policy is to not report information that puts operational security at risk.


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