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US Officials Hope Saddam Capture Will Prompt His Close Aides to Surrender - 2003-12-16

A senior U.S. military official has voiced hope the capture of Saddam Hussein will prompt other fugitive loyalists of the ousted Iraqi regime to surrender.

U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq have so far captured or killed over 40 of the top 55 most-wanted leaders of Saddam Hussein's regime, including Saddam himself, seized last Saturday at a remote farmhouse near Tikrit.

General Peter Pace, vice chairman of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, hopes Saddam's capture will prompt the remaining fugitives from his inner circle to give up.

He says that to his knowledge, none have yet taken up the offer. But General Pace stresses it is still open.

"Others in his close circle might understand that in fact this is it for Saddam Hussein and see if they would take the opportunity to come forward and give themselves up," he said. "That opportunity is still available to them, anytime, to come forward and give themselves up."

General Pace initially indicated coalition troops held back from certain types of raids and other operations in the immediate aftermath of Saddam's capture to allow other holdouts to contemplate the news and to surrender.

But he later denied there was any pause in military activities.

He declined to say whether the coalition was in contact with any fugitives or to say who the coalition was hoping might surrender.

However, when a reporter mentioned the name of Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, a top Baath Party official and deputy commander of Iraq's armed forces who is the highest-ranking remaining fugitive, General Pace said if Mr. al-Duri wants to give up, he will be treated properly and humanely.

Mr. al-Duri has been linked to the insurgents who have continued to stage terrorist attacks on coalition forces.