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More troops headed to Iraq in new year

In a newly released photo, Saddam Hussein wears traditional Arab clothing as he meets with Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi.
In a newly released photo, Saddam Hussein wears traditional Arab clothing as he meets with Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As many as 3,500 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade could go to Iraq after the new year, according to military officials.

The 1st Brigade is the "ready" brigade of the rapid response division, always on-call for emergencies. It is not yet determined if the entire brigade will go to Iraq, according to senior military officials. The 82nd Airborne Division is based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The troops will spend 120 days in Iraq. In addition, 3,500 troops from the division's 3rd Brigade, now in Fallujah, Iraq, have been ordered to stay for an additional 60 days, extending their deployment until the end of March, a full eight months.

Military officials said the deployment orders resulted from "adjustments" and a "gap" in the stated force rotation policy of the Pentagon.

One Army official said part of the reason is that a National Guard unit that had been designated to go in January will not be ready to deploy until March because the troops were ordered to get additional training.

Last month Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved a troop rotation plan to send more than 100,000 fresh troops to Iraq early next year, including the call-up of some 40,000 National Guard and Reserve troops for one-year tours of duty in Iraq.

Insurgents hunted in Samarra

On Thursday in Iraq, a U.S. military commander said U.S. forces have netted a significant number of "high-value targets" in an operation to root out insurgents in Samarra, and intend to kill or capture those who remain.

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said the troops still have "a lot of work to do," including finding out how many insurgents are in the north-central city, a hub of anti-coalition activity.

Samarra is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Saddam Hussein's ancestral homeland of Tikrit.

Called Operation Ivy Blizzard, the operation got under way Wednesday as U.S. troops sealed off Samarra and detained 30 suspects in house-to-house raids. It came a day after forces conducted raids in Samarra and captured 74 Iraqis, including a leader of the paramilitary group Fedayeen Saddam and a financier of anti-coalition activity.

The 4th Infantry Division, Task Force Ironhorse and Iraqi police are conducting the sweeps.

Under the command of Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, the operation is also an attempt to "build the confidence and trust" of the people in Samarra, Kimmitt said.

Captive Saddam in new photo

Dan Senor, an adviser to U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer, said Saddam's arrest Saturday has lifted a fear among Iraqis that the dictator would return to power.

Senor said there was a "record spike" in people signing up for the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps the morning after Saddam surrendered.

On Thursday, an Iraqi newspaper published a new photo of the ousted leader in captivity, and Baghdad residents hurried to buy copies.

Saddam's beard is shaved and his hair appears trimmed in the photo. It pictures him wearing traditional Arab clothing as he meets with Ahmad Chalabi, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council. Chalabi owns the paper that published the photo, which was taken this week.

The human rights group Amnesty International criticized the decision to allow the picture, saying that Saddam should be treated as a prisoner of war and that "he must not be used as a public curiosity." (Full story)

U.S. soldier dies in ambush

The first U.S. combat death since Saddam's capture occurred Wednesday night in a patrol ambush in central Baghdad, according to the Coalition Press Information Center. It was the first coalition combat death since Saddam's capture.

The attack on soldiers from the 1st Armored Division happened at 10:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m. ET), the center said. A second U.S. soldier and an Iraqi interpreter were wounded, it said. A U.S. military official said the patrol came under small-arms fire.

With the latest fatality, 460 U.S. troops have died in the Iraq war, including 314 from hostile fire. Of those, 321 have been killed -- 200 from hostile fire -- since President Bush declared an end to major combat May 1.

In other violence, a Shiite Muslim official was shot dead Wednesday near his home in Baghdad, a family member said.

Mohanned al-Hakim, who apparently received threats from Saddam loyalists last week, was gunned down in the Al Amil district of the Iraqi capital, said Mokhsen al-Hakim. The latter is a nephew of current Iraqi Governing Council President Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim.

The slain man was a representative of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Police are investigating.

In another shooting, former Baath party member Ali al Dalami was shot and killed Wednesday in the south-central city of Najaf, according to Mokhsen al-Hakim, who said he witnessed the attack.

He said al Dalami was responsible for executions in 1991 and other crimes.

Other developments

• David Kay, the CIA's man in charge of the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, is "likely" to leave his post in the next couple of months -- before the work is completed -- say U.S. officials, although no final decision has been made. Kay met recently with CIA Director George Tenet and others to discuss the weapons search, while he is back in Washington for the holidays, officials said.

• U.S. officials in Washington said one of the people arrested as the United States closed in on Saddam was found in possession of nearly $2 million. They added information from the man led to others, one of whom identified the farm hideout where the once-elusive Saddam was found. The deposed Iraqi dictator is undergoing interrogation at an undisclosed location in Iraq.

• Former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, who was the public face of the ousted regime, has started calling his youngest son -- named Saddam -- Zuhair instead, according to letters obtained by the London-based Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat. (Full story)

CNN's Barbara Starr contributed to this report.


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