| A file picture of Saddam Hussein with his grandson Mustafa. (Reuters)
Baghdad, July 23 (Reuters): Saddam Hussein’s teenage grandson Mustapha may have been the last man standing after US troops launched a missile barrage on a house where he had holed up with his father and uncle.
Three adults dead around him, the soldiers said he fired on them as they stormed into the ruins. They shot him down.
Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez described today the massive firepower from land and air that killed Saddam’s sons Uday and Qusay and two others, as yet unidentified, after yesterday’s siege in the city of Mosul. Automatic gunfire from a barricaded upper-storey room had wounded four soldiers when they first tried to detain the men.
Officials in Washington say one of the dead was Qusay’s 14- year-old son. Details remain sketchy and it was not entirely clear the last survivor was the youngster but Sanchez’s account indicated as much.
A barrage of 10 anti-tank missiles is likely to have killed the adults in the house, Sanchez told a news conference.
“We believe that it is likely that the missile attack was what wound up killing three of the adults,” said Sanchez, land forces commander in Iraq.
But when troops burst up the staircase, they came under fire again.“They killed the remaining individual,” Sanchez said. Around 200 soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division pounded the house with grenades, rocket-firing Kiowa attack helicopters and Humvees mounted with heavy .50 calibre machineguns and the anti-tank missiles yesterday. On standby were A-10 Warthog tankbuster aircraft and Apache attack helicopters but they were not used.
The proximity of neighbouring houses was a factor in not using heavier weaponry, Sanchez said. “We know of no collateral damage that occurred as a result of the operation,” he said.
Sanchez said the raid, initiated after a tip from an Iraqi “walk-in source” who will probably get the two $15 million rewards offered for information on Saddam’s sons, started with shouts over a bullhorn to surrender. “We did not get a response,” Sanchez said.
When soldiers entered the house, they came under rifle fire from the men, who had barricaded themselves in a fortified upstairs section of the villa. Four soldiers were hurt early on — three on the staircase and one outside the house.
US forces then called in more firepower. They tried later to enter the house a second time but again came under fire and withdrew.
”We began to employ Humvee-mounted TOW missiles,” Sanchez said.“We fired 10 TOW missiles into the house.”
The concrete mansion, home to a businessman who neighbours said may have been the informer, was left a shattered ruin.
When they entered the house a third time, only one person was left alive to shoot at U.S. soldiers, who killed him.