Iraqi forces hunt Saddam's former deputy

2013-04-18 18:32
Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri (Picture: AFP)

Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri (Picture: AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Baghdad - Iraqi special forces are closing in on the most senior member of Saddam Hussein's inner circle still on the run since the 2003 invasion, security sources said on Thursday.

Troops backed by helicopters were searching for Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, head of Saddam's now-outlawed Baath party, in villages around the former ruler's hometown of Tikrit, 150km north of Baghdad.

Capturing the most prominent Baath leader would be a major victory for the Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki before provincial elections that will measure his political muscle for the 2014 parliamentary ballot.

"We have solid information that he is in Dour since last night, now we have closed the area, announced a curfew and are searching house by house," said one senior security officer involved in the operation.

Douri was long believed to be living outside Iraq, and he was last seen in January in a video message encouraging Sunni Muslim protesters to resist Maliki's government.

Maliki is facing huge Sunni rallies in western Iraq protesting against what they see as the marginalisation of their minority sect since 2003. Many Sunnis feel they have been unfairly targeted for arrest by security forces.

The Shi'ite leader has offered some concessions to protesters, especially in the so-called de-Ba'athification law - meant to keep former Baath party members out of government posts - and Iraq's tough anti-terrorism laws.

Maliki is also under pressure from other Shi'ite parties in his coalition, who are trying to use his concessions to Sunnis for political gain in the local elections on Saturday for provincial council members.

Douri was vice-chairperson of Saddam's ruling Revolutionary Command Council until the invasion. He also headed the Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order or the Naqshbandi Army formed after 2007 to fight US troops.

Bombings

Sunni Islamist insurgents and al-Qaeda still carry out coordinated attacks like the string of bombings on Monday that killed 30 people in Baghdad and other cities.

Security officers involved in the Douri operation said they believed he moved between Tikrit and the towns of Dour and Hawija.

One security source said Douri visited Sunni demonstrators in Tikrit before he went to Dour where he has many supporters and owns a villa.

"The special forces early this morning raided the villa of his Excellency. They searched it, but found nothing," said Dhiyaa Ibrahim, one of Douri's neighbours.

Ibrahim said the troops searched other houses and nearby villages and arrested four people.

In January's video, Douri, surrounded by men in uniform, urged Sunni nationalists to resist the Shi'ite government, which has edged closer to Iraq's non-Arab Shi'ite neighbour Tehran since the invasion and fall of Sunni strongman Saddam.

Since the last American troops left, Baghdad's national government has been deadlocked by tensions among Shi'ite, Sunni and ethnic Kurdish parties who split government posts among them in an unwieldy power-sharing arrangement.

After the invasion, Douri was ranked sixth on the US military's list of 55 most wanted Iraqis and a $10m reward was offered for his capture.

US officials said he had organised a Sunni insurgency against American troops.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  saddam hussein  |  nuri al-maliki  |  iraq  |  religion

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.