Iraq's prime minister has criticized the United States for refusing to hand over three former aides of Saddam Hussein to be executed for crimes against Iraqi Kurds.

Nouri al-Maliki said Sunday the American Embassy in Baghdad is preventing the U.S. military from transferring the three men to Iraqi custody.

Mr. Maliki says there is no legal reason to delay executing Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali," and two other men sentenced to death for genocide against Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s.

An Iraqi appeals court upheld the sentences in September and ordered the three men to be hanged within 30 days, but Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi have refused to sign an order authorizing the executions.

U.S. authorities say they will not hand over the men until they receive a duly authorized request from Iraq's government.

The other two men sentenced to death are Sultan Hashim al-Taie, Saddam's defense minister, and Hussein Rashid Mohammed, a former deputy chief of operations for Iraq's armed forces.

Some Iraqi leaders have called for al-Taie, a Sunni, to be spared from execution in a gesture of national reconciliation.

In other news, the U.S. military said Sunday that U.S. and Iraqi forces had captured more than 200 suspected terrorists in four provinces of northern Iraq.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.