Iraqi and U.S. forces arrested a man believed to be the most wanted Saddam Hussein aide still on the run in a bloody raid in which 70 of his supporters were killed and 80 were captured, Iraqi officials said on Sunday. In another development, U.S. troops battled rebels in the northern town of Tall Afar for a second day Sunday as Iraqi and U.S. forces arrested 500 suspected militants in the heartland of the Sunni insurgency. Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, sixth on a U.S. list of the 55 most wanted members of Saddam's administration and had a $10 million price on his head, was captured in Tikrit, Saddam's former power base north of Baghdad, the Defense Ministry said. The U.S. military said Ibrahim was not in its custody, and it had no information on whether he was being held by Iraqis. An aide to Iraq's prime minister said DNA tests were under way to confirm the captured man was Ibrahim, informs the Daily Star. According to Reuters, Iraq's government is mired in confusion on whether the most wanted Saddam Hussein aide still on the run has been caught, with the defence minister denying his own ministry's report the fugitive had been seized. Defence Minister Hazim al-Shalaan said reports of the arrest of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, who was sixth on a U.S. list of the 55 most wanted members of Saddam's administration and had a $10 million (5.6 million pound) price on his head, were baseless. "We don't have any information regarding this issue. What has been said of a statement by the Defence Ministry is baseless," he told Lebanon's LBC television channel on Sunday. He was directly contradicting reports from his own spokesmen, who said earlier that Ibrahim had been arrested in Tikrit, Saddam's former powerbase north of Baghdad. Two Iraqi ministers said the capture followed a bloody raid in which 150 of Ibrahim's supporters tried to prevent his capture. Iraqi Minister of State Wael Abdul al-Latif said it was "75 to 90 percent certain" Ibrahim had been seized, adding that 70 of the former official's supporters were killed and 80 captured when they tried to thwart his arrest. There has been confusion over whether Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri has been captured by Iraqi forces. Interior ministry and national guard officers said on Saturday that Ibrahim had been seized in a deadly gunbattle following a tip-off he was receiving medical treatment at a clinic near his and Saddam's hometown of Tikrit. But on Sunday Major General Ahmed Khalaf Salman, who commands the north-central Iraq region, denied the story. US commanders in Iraq and at the Pentagon also declined to confirm the capture. Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's office clarified the situation late on Sunday. "Yes, they captured someone that might be him," said Mr Allawi's spokesman Taha Hussein. "They are waiting for the DNA tests so nothing is for sure yet." Ibrahim, 62, is alleged to have been bankrolling much of the anti-US insurgency in Sunni Arab areas. US officials also suggest he has used his reputation as a devout Muslim to forge an alliance with Islamic militants believed responsible for some of the deadliest attacks in Iraq, reports SBS.
Read earlier news stories by PRAVDA.Ru