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Telegraph, July 25, 2003


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Gruesome fate of Saddam sons shown in US pictures
By David Blair in Baghdad

Pictures of the contorted, bloodied faces of Saddam Hussein's sons were released yesterday as American officials sought to convince a sceptical Iraqi population that Uday and Qusay were dead.

The four graphic pictures, broadcast on coalition-controlled Iraqi television and around the world, showed the macabre results of the six-hour gun battle when US troops stormed the brothers' hideout in Mosul.

Both Uday, 39, and Qusay, 36, appear to have head wounds. John Sawers, Britain's envoy in Iraq, said Uday might have committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

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The graphic pictures of Qusay [top] and Uday Saddam were shown around the world

Uday, identified by his baldness, had suffered especially severe facial injuries. The deep wound on the left side of his face left his teeth damaged, preventing a complete match with his dental records.

Unusually, both brothers had thick beards. They might have grown these in an attempt at disguise.

Before deciding to release the pictures, US officials had to weigh up concerns that doing so would encourage the display of bodies of dead Americans in future conflicts.

During the Iraq war, images of captured and dead American personnel were broadcast on Middle Eastern television.

Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, said he had made the decision to release the brothers' pictures and that he was "glad" he did so.

"I honestly believe these are particularly bad characters, and that it's important for the Iraqi people to see them, to know they're gone, to know they're dead, and to know they're not coming back."

The Hussein brothers' photographs were shown yesterday on al-Jazeera and al-Arabia, two satellite channels with wide audiences in Iraq.

Members of the country's new Governing Council were also taken to view the bodies in the morgue at Baghdad international airport.

Mr Sawers told The Telegraph that the nature of Uday's injuries raised the possibility of suicide. "He had a bullet wound in his face, entering by his mouth and exiting through the back of his head," he said.

"Whether he committed suicide we don't know."

It seems possible Uday placed a gun barrel in his mouth and pulled the trigger, perhaps in the last moments of the Mosul siege, as US troops were closing in under cover of an intense bombardment.

Mr Sawers described how the coalition's most important captive, Abid Hamid Mahmoud al-Tikriti, Saddam's former presidential secretary, identified Uday's body.

After Saddam's eldest son was shot and critically wounded in 1996 a titanium pin was fitted in his leg.

Mr Sawers said: "The first thing Mahmoud said when he was taken to the body was 'show me Uday's leg'.

"So the leg was uncovered … you could see the evidence of a titanium pin. They took an X-ray and there was the pin. As soon as Mahmoud saw the leg, he said, 'that's Uday'."

Mr Sawers said other figures from the former regime were thought to be hiding near the brothers in Mosul and troops continued to surround the area.

"I'm clear that Saddam's days are numbered," he said.

Mr Sawers believes that the deaths of Uday and Qusay will demoralise the gunmen who launch daily attacks against coalition forces and killed another three US soldiers near Mosul yesterday.

The brothers' passing is of immense symbolic value.

The coalition will exploit this victory to regain the aura of invincibility from which it benefited during the war but has lost while grappling with the problems of peace.

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