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Van Marsh: Troops celebrated at end of raid

CNN correspondent Alphonso Van Marsh
CNN correspondent Alphonso Van Marsh

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CNN's Alphonso Van Marsh has more on the raid that U.S. officials say may have netted Saddam Hussein.
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U.S. officials say they believe former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was captured in raid near Tikrit.
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Alphonso Van Marsh
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TIKRIT, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. forces captured former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in a late-night raid in his hometown, according to the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority.

CNN correspondent Alphonso Van Marsh was at Camp Raider Base when soldiers returned from a raid. He said the mood indicated something monumental had occurred. Below is a portion of his report from that base in Tikrit.

VAN MARSH: I am here at Raider Base. That is one of the bases where the 4th Infantry Division is staying. Now they regularly go out and conduct these raids, but I noticed last night that something here was very, very different. The troops went out about 7 o'clock at night and came back at about 11 o'clock. That's about 2 a.m. East Coast time.

Something was very, very different. Usually when the troops come in it's not really that much of a big deal. There's not that much of a buzz going on.

But last night, two Bradley tanks stopped right down there. Troops got out. They started taking pictures with each other. The leadership here kind of gave them this rah rah pep talk and more pictures were being taken.

People were hanging out, and it seemed very celebratory. We were not privy to those private military conversations, but today there is definitely a buzz going around.

U.S. military officials are not talking specifically about what may have happened in the last 12 hours.

For these troops here, the one's I've been interacting with at Raider base and at other bases in Tikrit, it's been a long, long trip. They've been here since the heat of the summer where temperatures were 130 degrees, and now people are starting to get chilly.

But what was good in terms of morale was when news spread here that U.S. President George W. Bush actually came into Iraq for Thanksgiving. When word came out and they saw that picture of that platter and that turkey and the U.S. president going around, mood swings went really, really up. People were very excited.

U.S. forces really miss their families. One of the specialist here she said did not want to take her optional two weeks to go home. She was afraid that if she went home, she would not want to come back.

So perhaps news that one of the main goals, one of the understood goals here of this war in Iraq -- getting rid of the former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein -- that certainly seems to be boosting troops. There are a lot of smiles here on this base this morning.


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