The U.S. military has confirmed that Saddam Hussein's sons Qusay and Uday have been killed in a fierce gunfight with American forces in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, commander of coalition forces in Iraq, confirms Qusay and Uday Hussein were killed when U.S. forces, acting on an intelligence tip, raided a house in Mosul.

General Sanchez said the six-hour operation saw occupants barricaded inside the building resist detention fiercely before U.S. troops moved in. "Four persons were killed during that operation and were removed from the building and we have since confirmed that Uday and Qusay Hussein are among the dead," he said.

The general said multiple sources were used to identify the two men, who had been numbers two and three on the U.S. military's list of most-wanted former Iraqi regime officials.

He said more details will be released in Baghdad on Wednesday, hinting photographs and other physical evidence may be presented.

But the general said he believes the deaths of Saddam's sons will demonstrate to the Iraqi people the coalition's commitment to ensuring that the ousted regime will not be returning to power.

In Washington, the senior U.S. administrator for Iraq, Paul Bremer, calls it a "great day for the Iraqi people" as well as for the American military. He spoke after meeting members of the U.S. Senate.

Qusay Hussein was the head of Iraq's Special Security Organization and was seen as Saddam's possible successor. Uday was the organizer of Saddam's Fedayeen militia and was known for ordering the torture and killing of many Iraqis.

The raid in Mosul took place after what is described as a "walk-in" Iraqi source told U.S. officials where Saddam's sons could be located,

General Sanchez said it is likely reward money offered by the coalition for information leading to the capture or deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein will be paid out.

The coalition had offered $15 million each for the two sons.