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Number of Iraqi Civil Defense Volunteers Rises After Saddam's Capture - 2003-12-18

The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq says there was a marked increase in the number of people signing up for the Iraqi civil defense force the day after the coalition announced the capture of Saddam Hussein.

Provisional Authority spokesman Dan Senor says it was the biggest surge of interest yet in joining the civil defense force, and much of it came from a surprising area.

"On the morning after Saddam Hussein's capture was announced, we had a record spike in the number of Iraqis signing up voluntarily to serve in the Iraqi civil defense corps," he said. "And what's interesting is the concentration of that spike was mostly in the Tikrit area."

Coalition forces found Saddam Hussein hiding on a farm near Tikrit, his hometown, on Saturday. Tikrit is still considered a stronghold of support for the ousted Iraqi leader, and it is part of what is called the Sunni Triangle, an area where coalition forces and Iraq's new police force have come under frequent deadly attack.

Mr. Senor could not give any specific numbers on the increase in volunteers in Tikrit or elsewhere. The new Iraqi civil defense force conducts security patrols and works with coalition forces and the Iraqi police to improve the overall security situation in the country.