Iraqis help US troops to devastate Saddam statue; Moscow denies Saddam hides in Russian embassy
Hundreds of Iraqis, with help from US Marines, hauled down a bronze and marble statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad.
Crowds of Iraqis swarmed onto the icon of the Iraqi leader, as US troops rumbled into the center of the capital.
A US armoured military vehicle helped the people pull down the statue after a man had clambered up the pedestal to put a rope around its neck. Some in the crowd threw rocks, stones and shoes.
The huge bronze statue was soon badly damaged with a large hole evident in the marble plinth. The statue itself was put up less than a year ago - on April 28 last year - to mark Saddam's 65th birthday.
Meanwhile, according to reports, Saddam Hussein is hiding in the Russian Embassy in Baghdad. He is said to be trying to negotiate a deal allowing him to go free in return for surrendering. This report has been strongly denied by Russian officials.
It was first made by the speaker of the Lebanese parliament, Nabih Berri. He pointed out that Russian ambassador Vladimir Titorenko had left Baghdad on Saturday.
Titorenko arrived in Damascus, Syria, on Monday, claiming that US forces had fired on his diplomatic convoy as it left Baghdad. He returned to the Iraqi capital on Tuesday, apparently to bring out an embassy driver wounded in the incident and a diplomat who stayed to look after the hospitalised victim.
"Saddam Hussein could have found refuge in the Russian embassy in Baghdad," Berri told journalists, giving no further backing for his statement. Russia's Foreign Ministry denied the claim.
"Such statements absolutely do not and cannot correspond with reality," spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said. "This is an attempt yet another time to place the Russian Embassy in Baghdad under threat."
Unidentified diplomatic sources in Moscow told Russian news agencies the ambassador and his two charges crossed back into Syria early on Wednesday and were met by embassy staff in the capital Damascus. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)