Saddam targeted in bombing
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and other senior Iraqi officials may have been in a building in a residential area of Baghdad bombed by the U.S. military, U.S. officials have said.
The U.S. military dropped four 2,000-pound bombs on the building Monday based on "time-sensitive intelligence" that some senior Iraqi officials, possibly including Saddam and his two sons, were there, U.S. officials said early Tuesday.
The building was in the Mansour neighborhood, where CNN sources said a blast killed nine people and wounded 13 others Monday.
Central Command said that at 3 p.m. Baghdad time (1100 GMT), a B-1 bomber dropped four satellite-guided 2,000-pound GBU 31/32-JDAM bombs on the target, and that it was struck "very hard."
U.S. officials told CNN the weapons destroyed the building, and video of the scene showed a massive crater filled with rubble, slabs of cement and at least one car.
It was unclear who might have been killed in the attack, U.S. officials said, but they said they believed the intelligence -- which U.S. officials received Monday -- was very good.
Part of that intelligence was "human" intelligence, meaning it came from informants.
A senior administration official in Washington said the strike was "very much the same" as the initial "decapitation attack" that began the war and was aimed at Saddam Hussein, his two sons and other top government officials.
Explosions and machine gun fire were again heard in Baghdad early Tuesday morning, with several hours of heavy mortar and rocket attacks by both sides, CNN Correspondent Lisa Rose Weaver reported.
A correspondent for the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation said the machine gun fire was coming from the direction of a presidential palace. U.S. forces have entered at least two of Saddam's palaces in Baghdad.
The situation had quieted down just after 6 a.m. local time (0200 GMT), Weaver reported.
U.S. forces earlier said they had found what may be chemical weapons materials in an agricultural complex south of Baghdad.
The 101st Airborne Division discovered what might be a stash of nerve and blister agents hidden inside barrels in underground bunkers at a complex at Hindiya near Karbala, about 100 kilometers south of Baghdad.
Initial tests at the site indicate the presence of non-weaponized chemical agents, Brig. Gen. Benjamin Freakly said.
"It's a liquid chemical, but it hasn't been put in a delivery means or anything that could be dispersed against our soldiers," he said.
It is possible the substances were pesticides, he said. Further tests were being done. ( Full story)
The chemical find comes as coalition forces appear to be increasing their grip on key parts of Iraq amid signs that President Saddam's Hussein's control of the country is slipping.
Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, said the entry into two of the Iraqi leader's palaces in Baghdad sends "an important message, I think, for the regime and the people of Iraq to understand: that this regime is gone."
At the same Pentagon briefing, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced that President Hussein "no longer runs much of Iraq."
"His forces continue to surrender and capitulate. His regime is running out of real soldiers. And soon all that will be left will be the war criminals," Rumsfeld said. (Full story)
Earlier, Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf stood in the street issuing denials of U.S. troop advances, saying the capital was "safe and secure."
During an impromptu news conference in an apparent show of defiance, al-Sahaf said: "The soldiers of Saddam Hussein have given them a lesson they will never forget," he said. "Those in Washington, they have sent their troops to be burned." (Full story)
But CNN's Walter Rodgers reports there has been "mass desertions," with Iraqi troops abandoning their armored vehicles and fleeing. Sources told him three U.S. Army battalions planned to stay in the capital.
When troops stormed the palace on the bank of the Tigris River, Iraqis -- possibly soldiers -- were seen running away. One of the men, who was wearing only white underwear, may have shed his military uniform.
According to Rodgers, an Army officer said some U.S. soldiers tried to raise an American flag, incensing some Baghdad residents.
About 8 p.m. Monday (1600 GMT), a series of explosions rocked an area of Baghdad, setting off a brilliant fire that lit up the darkened sky.
An apartment block and a restaurant in the Mansour neighborhood of Baghdad was hit Monday, killing at least nine people from two families and wounding 13 others, according to CNN sources who went to the scene.
Residents told the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation they believed the damage came as a result of coalition air raids. The U.S. Central Command in Doha, Qatar, had no immediate comment.
Meanwhile, some 240 kilometers east of Mosul -- the largest Iraqi city remaining under regime control -- coalition forces Monday were approaching the main highway connecting Mosul to Kirkuk, hoping to cut off those cities from each other.
The developments came as British forces made their largest incursion into Basra, setting up a base inside Iraq's second-largest city. (Full story)
In other developments:
• Group Capt. Al Lockwood, British military spokesman at Central Command, cited "reliable sources" when he said the body of Gen. Ali Hassan al-Majeed -- Saddam's cousin who was nicknamed "Chemical Ali" after ordering the use of chemical weapons against Kurds -- had been found. Coalition forces bombed the Basra Iraqi commander's home this weekend. ('Chemical Ali')
• U.S. forces were holding a strategic ridge between Mosul, Iraq's main commercial center, and Kirkuk, trying to dislodge Iraqi fighters between those two northern cities, CNN's Jane Arraf reported near Mosul. Little resistance from the Iraqis was reported as the U.S. troops tried to move forward.
• A convoy carrying nine Russian diplomats who came under fire Sunday as they fled Baghdad reached the Syrian-Iraq border Monday afternoon, according to a correspondent for Russia's Channel One (ORT). Five people were injured in the incident.
• Opposition group the Iraqi National Congress said its forces had joined the military campaign against the Iraqi regime. A unit called the 1st Battalion Free Iraqi Forces, made up of 700 troops, began deployment near Nasiriya.
• The future of post-war Iraq will be the focus when U.S. President George Bush meets British Prime Minister Tony Blair Monday for a summit in Northern Ireland. (Blair, Bush talks)
• Until the war is over and the situation in Iraq can be assessed, it remains difficult to make a plan for a representative postwar Iraqi government, British Central Command spokesman Air Marshal Brian Burridge told a briefing Monday. (Full story)
• According to the latest figures provided by U.S. and British authorities, a total of 119 coalition service members have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Seven U.S. service personnel are listed as missing in action and seven held as prisoners of war. (Coalition casualties)
• The Iraqi government has not released information on military losses, but official public statements says 420 civilians have died, 4,000 have been injured and 6,000 taken as prisoners of war.
CNN National Security Correspondent David Ensor and Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre contributed to this report.
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