The U.S. Army in Iraq is denying reports that a top Saddam Hussein deputy has been captured. Earlier Tuesday, several members of Iraq's Governing Council told the media that Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri had been either captured or killed during an overnight raid near the northern city of Kirkuk.

A spokesman for the U.S. Army unit which conducted the raid says Mr. al-Douri was "definitely not captured during the operation."

The spokesman adds that the operation began early Tuesday and is still on-going.

The U.S. military statement contradicts earlier reports from several Governing Council members, who said that they had been informed by well-placed sources that U.S. and Iraqi forces had caught or killed the former general in the raid near Kirkuk, 250 kilometers north of Baghdad.

Mr. al-Douri is the most senior official of the former regime, aside from Saddam Hussein himself, who is still at large. Coalition officials believe he is directly involved in orchestrating some of the attacks on U.S. troops in central Iraq. They have recently placed a $10 million bounty on his head.

Last week, the U.S. military took Mr. al-Douri's wife and daughter into custody in an apparent attempt to pressure the former general into surrendering.