ABU DHABI Ñ U.S. forces have destroyed a bunker and what they believed to be a meeting in progress of President
Saddam Hussein, his sons, and members of the
The bunker was located under a restaurant in the Mansour neighborhood of
Baghdad. The building was destroyed by four one-ton conventional
bunker-busting bombs equipped with JDAM [Joint Direct Attack Munition]
guidance systems dropped by a B-1 heavy bomber on Monday.
U.S. officials said "time-sensitive" intelligence information reported
that Saddam, his sons, Uday and Qusay, were convening a meeting of up to 12
senior aides. They said the information, confirmed by radio intercepts, was
that Saddam had been planning to discuss the escape of the leadership from
the Iraqi capital to either Tikrit or Mosul.
"I don't know whether he [Saddam] survived," U.S. President George Bush
told a news conference in Ireland on Tuesday. "I just know he's losing
U.S. military personnel have sifted through the rubble for a trace of
Saddam and his sons, who were said to have been seen entering the restaurant
on Monday afternoon. Officials said up to 30 Iraqi senior officials were
believed to have attended the meeting chaired by Saddam.
"We are confirming that a leadership target was hit very hard," U.S.
Central Command spokesman Maj. Brad
Bartlett said in a briefing in Qatar on Tuesday. "Battle damage assessment
Officials said the search could take several days. So far, 14 bodies
were said to have been found in the rubble.
"As his regime collapses around him, the question is asked, where is
he [Saddam]?" Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said. "There are three
possibilities: He's either dead or injured or not willing to show himself."
The destruction of the suspected Saddam bunker was followed by the
cessation of Iraqi radio and television broadcasts. The Information Ministry
has also been bombed.
On Tuesday, U.S. armored units, backed by AH-64D attack helicopters and
A-10 close-support combat fixed-wing aircraft, fought Republican Guard
armored forces near the Tigris River and entered eastern Baghdad. At the
same time, U.S. troops also launched an attack on Rashadiya airport south of
Earlier, the U.S. 1st Marine Division was said to have found an arsenal
of Iraqi missiles with suspected chemical warheads. Military sources told
the U.S.-based National Public Radio that 20 Iraqi BM-21 missiles and
Katyusha short-range rockets tipped with sarin and mustard gas warheads were
found in a warehouse in southern Baghdad.
One report asserted that Scud-class missiles were also found in the
site. U.S. officials did not confirm the report. Later, officials said
several chemicals found in a site near Karbala on Monday did not constitute
nonconventional weapons agents.
"We have to recognize that almost all first reports we get are wrong,"
Rumsfeld said. "There tend to be changes in them. As a result we have to
take our time and look at them."