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CNN BREAKING NEWS

U.S. Official: Four Bodies in U.S. Possession

Aired July 22, 2003 - 14:25   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: More now on the shootout that took place in Mosul today that may have marked the end of the road for Qusay and Uday Hussein, the sons of Saddam Hussein, a four-hour shootout, we are told, involving a reported 200 American troops, four dead bodies. What will happen to the bodies?
Our Barbara Star live at the Pentagon now with more.

What's the latest, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have a little better understanding of how things will unfold now, Kyra. What we are told is the bodies of the four people who were killed in this attack remain inside Iraq at this hour. They have been flown out of the Mosul area, but they are in Iraq. What they are going to do is they are going to harvest DNA samples from these bodies, they will bring those DNA samples, DNA material, back to the United States for positive identification. It is believed that this very complex DNA testing will be done by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology here in the Washington D.C. area. They have done DNA testing in the past on a number of very sensitive cases, including attacks against suspected Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. So they are very familiar with this process. It could take several days to get positive identification.

Now, officials say they still believe that two of the bodies probably are the sons of Saddam Hussein but this is a matter of such international interest, they want to be absolutely sure. They want to go lieu the whole process -- Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Barbara also a Reuters correspondent in Mosul reported to us from the area, not long after the shootout, she mentioned a U.S. soldier shot in the chest. What do you know about that?

STARR: We have asked that question. I must tell you, here at the moment, there are no reports of any wounded U.S. personnel as a direct result of this incident. We are still checking on that. We are aware the reports are out there, but so far, the Pentagon, at least, has no word about any, at this point, about anybody wounded.

PHILLIPS: Barbara, just one other quick question, this correspondent also reporting these bodies were pretty badly charred. How confident do officials there at the Pentagon feel with regard to being able to get a good sample and being able to identify these bodies? .

STARR: Let me add a bit of clarification on that, Kyra. What we are told by U.S. officials is not charred, but quoting one official, "pretty well shot up." So the bodies may not be in the best physical shape, but if they are just pretty -- if they are just shot up, they do feel they will still be able to get a usable DNA sample at this point, at least that is their feeling now. They are going to take DNA samples, DNA material from each of the bodies, and then bring it back here and try to make that final positive identification.

Now, remember, what they believe they are dealing with at this point is four dead, two of them being the sons of Saddam Hussein, one being a 14-year-old teenage son of one of the sons, so there would be a DNA connection there. The other person they believe may be a bodyguard, may be a personal assistant to one of the sons. That may be the one they are not able to identify. But they are going to make their best effort, they tell us, in the days ahead.

PHILLIPS: Our Barbara Starr, live from the Pentagon. Thanks, Barbara.

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