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Journalists View Bodies of Uday, Qusay Hussein - 2003-07-25

UU.S. officials in Iraq have allowed international journalists to view the bodies of Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay, hoping to convince skeptical Iraqis that two of the most feared men in Iraq are truly gone.

The U.S. military on Friday took more than a dozen independent journalists from various organizations to view the bodies at a military morgue at the Baghdad International Airport.

The journalists report that the bodies did look like Saddam's sons. But they also say the bodies did not look like the bloody, bearded corpses that were shown in photographs a day earlier. Journalists say wounds on both men's faces had been repaired with morticians putty, and their thick beards had been shaven off.

U.S. officials say the aim of reconstructing the faces was not to deceive the public, but to make the faces resemble the Hussein brothers before April of this year, when U.S. forces seized Baghdad and the two men went into hiding.

Qusay Hussein's beard was shaven off, but a moustache, which he normally wore, had been left. A gaping hole in his older brother Uday's face had been repaired, but a bullet wound on the top of his head was left untouched.

U.S. officials have ruled out earlier speculation that he might have shot himself to avoid capture. On Tuesday, U.S. forces stormed a villa in the northern city of Mosul and killed the brothers during a fierce gun battle.

Though many Iraqis across the country welcomed the news, some continued to question whether the Hussein brothers, who ran Iraq's feared security and military units, were really dead.

U.S. officials on Thursday presented medical evidence as well as photographs of the slain brothers. But many Iraqis, like Salah Abdel Sattar Al-Naimi, said that their bruised and bearded faces, partially covered in blood, made it difficult for them to tell for certain.

Mr. Naimi said he saw the photographs on Arabic-language television, and he was certain the photograph of the man the Americans say is Qusay Hussein is not him. But Mr. Naimi said he was less sure of the man the Americans say is Uday.

By displaying the bodies to journalists, Washington now hopes the media can convince skeptics like Mr. Naimi that Saddam's sons cannot threaten them any more.