US officer: There's ''clear indication'' Saddam hiding in Tikrit area; Third US soldier killed in past 24 hours
The U.S. military said it believes Saddam Hussein has been hiding out in Tikrit area and influencing the anti-U.S. attacks. "We have clear indication he has been here recently," Maj. Troy Smith told reporters in the ex-president's hometown. "We are receiving a large amount of information from human sources." "He could be here right now," he added.
Smith, executive officer of the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade, said Saddam is believed to be exerting some control over anti-U.S. attacks around Tikrit. If he isn't in Tikrit at the moment, he said, "at the least, he is maintaining a strong influence in the area."
Smith said US troops in the area were determined to "maintain the pressure" on Saddam. "We're not going to give him the opportunity to regroup his forces; we need to keep him off balance," he said, in reference to Saddam.
Meanwhile, one U.S. soldier was killed and two others wounded when Iraqi resistance fighters ambushed a U.S. military convoy northeast of Baghdad. A U.S. military spokesman said the convoy was attacked with a roadside bomb and small arms fire in the town of Jalawla.
All in all, three American soldiers have been killed in separate attacks over a 24-hour period in northern Iraq.
The attacks on U.S. occupation forces averaged 22 a day in the past week, the U.S. military reported Monday in Baghdad, according to The AP. That's a rise of several a day over the pace of some weeks earlier, and has resulted in American deaths at a rate of almost one every two days.
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