Baghdad, Iraq — The Bush administration approved a $30 million payment Thursday to the informant who led U.S. troops to Saddam Hussein's two sons, while two of the ousted dictator's daughters took refuge in Jordan in a sign of further pressure on remnants of the defeated regime.
Two more U.S. soldiers were killed by insurgents, meanwhile, bringing to 51 the number of Americans to die in combat since May 1, when President Bush declared major combat over.
Secretary of State Colin Powell decided that the informant whose tip led to the deaths of Odai and Qusai Hussein in a firefight July 22 in a Mosul villa in northern Iraq should get both of the $15 million rewards that had been put on the men's heads.
"It's actually for services rendered," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in Washington. "It's a lump sum payment of $30 million."
For his protection, the informant has not been identified, although people in Mosul have speculated it was the owner of the house being used as a hideout.
The U.S. military commander for Iraq said he had nothing significant to report about the hunt for Iraq's most wanted man. But some U.S. officers said the daughters' flight to Jordan was another sign that intensified sweeps were squeezing Saddam and other members of the defeated regime.
"It would seem to confirm that his family is on the move, along with his closest associates," said Lt. Col. Steve Russell, who commands Army troops patrolling Saddam's hometown of Tikrit. "It's good news. Even if it's estranged or extended family, it shows they're on the move."
Saddam's daughters Raghad and Rana arrived Thursday in Jordan with their nine children, Jordanian Information Minister Nabil al-Sharif said. He would not say where they were in the capital, Amman, or where they came from, but he said King Abdullah II decided to offer them refuge.
|David Kay, special adviser for the U.S. search for banned weapons in Iraq, hinted Thursday that U.S. and coalition personnel were close to a breakthrough. He said there was solid progress and Iraqi scientists were "collaborating and cooperating."|
"They are Arab women who have run out of all options," al-Sharif said.
The whereabouts of Saddam's wife Sajida Khairallah Telfah and his youngest daughter, Hala, were unknown.
Raghad and Rana, whose father ordered their husbands executed in 1996, were long estranged from Saddam but were believed to have reconciled with him.