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US Special Forces Capture Saddam's Half Brother - 2003-04-17

The U.S. military says it has captured Barzan Ibrahim Hassan al-Tikriti, the half-brother of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Central Command spokesman General Vincent Brooks says special forces backed by U.S. Marines captured Barzan in Baghdad, in an operation carried out in the early morning hours Thursday.

"The capture demonstrates our commitment to relentlessly pursuing the scattered members of a fractured regime. Efforts related to other regime leaders are ongoing," General Brooks said.

General Brooks described Barzan as a senior adviser to Saddam Hussein, with extensive knowledge of the Iraqi regime. He had been listed as Number 38 on the coalition's list of 55 most wanted fugitives.

The general also confirmed that American forces have bombed the principal bases of the main armed Iranian opposition group, the Mujaheddin e Khalq, which has had bases inside Iraq for more than a decade.

"We know that there's a presence of Mujaheddin e Khalq inside Iraq, and indeed, we have been targeting them for some time," the general said. "There is work that is ongoing right now to try to secure some kind of agreement that would be a cease-fire and a capitulation."

The group has been labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department since 1997, but some members of Congress have described it as friendly, pro-democracy, anti-fundamentalist, and an effective force putting pressure on Iran.

The Central Command also announced further armed resistance. General Brooks said the newly arrived Fourth Infantry Division had what he termed a brief firefight in the vicinity of Taji airfield, north of Baghdad.

He said U.S. troops killed a number of enemy soldiers, destroyed a number of Iraqi tanks and captured some 100 Iraqi soldiers. He described a well-armed enemy force with multiple rocket-launcher systems, armored personnel carriers and a surface-to-air missile warehouse.

General Brooks also said there are pockets of lawlessness and violence in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. About 17 Iraqis have been reported killed by U.S. forces in two separate incidents in the city this week.