U.S. releases photos said to show Saddam's sons' bodies
Many Iraqis want proof that Uday, Qusay were killed
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The provisional authority in Iraq has released photographs Thursday it said were of Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay, aimed at convincing skeptical Iraqis that they were killed in a raid by U.S. troops.
The pictures, said to have been taken after the brothers died in a firefight with U.S. troops Tuesday in Mosul, show grim images of the heads and upper torsos of the sons, their faces heavily bearded.
An image identified as that of Uday is seen with his head shaved and with black marks on his face and head. Qusay's purported image reveals wounds apparently received in the gun battle and missile attack in which the two men died. (Profiles: Qusay Hussein, Uday Hussein)
The U.S. government intentionally released the photographs on CD-ROM through the provisional authority in Baghdad because the U.S. military has traditionally been reluctant to release images of slain combatants. The Bush administration complained loudly when images of American dead were broadcast on Arab television networks during the war with Iraq. (Ethical questions)
The CD also includes X-rays said to show wounds Uday Hussein suffered in a 1996 assassination attempt. Those X-rays helped U.S. forces confirm his identity, according to Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq.
Adnan Pachachi, a former Iraqi foreign minister who now sits on the U.S.-backed Iraqi Governing Council, said Thursday that the brothers' deaths "will hasten the end of the acts of violence that have been perpetuated recently."
"The death of Qusay and Uday has been welcomed by the Iraqi people, because they were a symbol of all the oppression imposed on the people of Iraq for decades," Pachachi said at a news conference in London.
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said providing proof of the Hussein brothers' deaths could demoralize the remnants of Saddam's regime that are battling U.S. troops, encourage Iraqis to come forward with information and convince them that the regime "is not coming back."
Rumsfeld said he made the decision to release the photos, and it was "not a close call for me."
"If it can save American lives, I'm happy to have made the decision I made," Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday. "That seems to me to outweigh the sensitivities -- the proper sensitivities -- that you have raised."
During a speech in Philadelphia Thursday, President Bush declared the Iraqis had reason to celebrate because "the careers of two of the regime's chief henchmen came to an end."
"Saddam Hussein's sons were responsible for torture, for maiming innocent citizens, and for the murder of countless Iraqis. And now, more than ever, the Iraqis can know that the former regime is gone and is not coming back."
The director of the U.S.-led reconstruction effort in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, agreed that distributing the images of the bodies of Saddam's sons had important strategic value.
"I think in the long run it will also hopefully encourage more Iraqis to come and give us information about more Baathists, and that's really what we have to have happen next," said Bremer.
Many Iraqis are skeptical about the reports of the deaths of the brothers, who were feared nationwide as ruthless killers and protectors of their father's dictatorship. (Full story)
Along with releasing the photographs, the United States has also granted a request from Iraq's new governing council to see the bodies firsthand. The hope is that Iraqis will believe what they hear from their fellow Iraqis, even if they don't trust the United States.
But the most convincing evidence for Iraqis may come from the so-called New Fedayeen fighters in a taped statement delivered to the Arabic-language television network Al Arabiya in Iraq.
"To the occupiers who said the killing of Uday and Qusay would reduce attacks on the invaders, we say the deaths will increase the attacks on their soldiers," said a masked man on the videotape.
In northern Iraq Thursday, three U.S. soldiers were killed when small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades ambushed their convoy, according to the U.S. military. (Full story)
Autopsies will be performed on Hussein brothers' bodies and they could be re-photographed after they have been cleaned up, a Pentagon official said.
Dental records and visual identifications from four senior members of Saddam's former regime who are in U.S. custody were used along with X-rays to confirm the identities of the brothers, according to Sanchez.
Bremer Wednesday said it was clear that the brothers did not want to be taken alive, despite U.S. troop efforts to capture them.
Bremer, who was in Washington at the time of the raid, said: "We went to the door of the house, were refused entry and were fired upon, but with increasingly heavier weapons. And we had to respond and these people were found inside of a very heavily armored room. There was no way they were going to be taken alive." (Gallery: Timeline of the attack)
Battle in Mosul
In a Wednesday news conference, Sanchez detailed the operation that killed the brothers, an assault that started with a gun battle on the stairs of a house in Mosul, northern Iraq, and ended with the firing of about 10 anti-tank missiles.
Iraqi police had a role in setting up a cordon around the area of the house in which Saddam's sons were said to be hiding, Sanchez said. (Map) Army .50-caliber machine guns and 10 Humvee-mounted TOW missiles were used in the assault and Sanchez said it's believed the missiles probably killed the brothers. (Details)
CNN correspondents Rym Brahimi, David Ensor, Jamie McIntyre, John King, Barbara Starr and Harris Whitbeck, and producers Pam Benson and Kevin Flower, contributed to this report.