Tikrit, Iraq Skeptical Iraqis began to accept that Saddam Hussein's sons Odai and Qusai were dead after a new audiotape attributed to the fallen dictator acknowledged his sons had become martyrs in the fight against American occupation.
During a patrol in Tikrit early Wednesday, U.S. forces came across a black flag strung up in front of a local government building. The writing mourned the passing of Odai and Qusai.
After asking his translator to read the gold and white lettering to him, U.S. Lt. Col. Steve Russell, whose 4th Infantry Division, 1st Battalion is leading the raids in Tikrit, took out his pocket knife and cut it down, crumpling it in his hands before taking it away.
In Pakistan, Geo-TV broadcast an interview with Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, in which he again raised U.S. concerns about foreign fighters among the insurgency in Iraq.
"Certainly we know that there are foreign fighters that have flowed in through Syria, and in fact, 80 of them were engaged several weeks ago in a training camp, and they were not Iraqis," Myers said.
Also Wednesday, more than 200 tribal leaders gathered in front of the house of Prince Rabiah Muhammed al-Habib, one of the country's most influential tribal leaders, to protest a U.S. raid on his home in Baghdad's al-Mansour neighborhood Sunday in search for Saddam. A nearby hospital reported five Iraqis were killed in the shooting. The American military said it was looking into the incident.
"If this will continue, then the feeling of the Iraqis will develop into hatred, and that's not healthy for the Iraqi people and for the Americans," al-Habib said.
The American military, meanwhile, continued examining documents and photo albums seized in Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, looking for clues to the fallen dictator's whereabouts.
Watching the broadcast of the purported Saddam audiotape in Baghdad, Fahr Jihuri said the ex-dictator's announcement removed any existing doubt that Odai and Qusai were dead.
"Saddam just confirmed that his sons are dead. As far as I understand him, he tries to incite people to attack Americans by telling them that his sons and grandson have died for the cause," Jihuri said.
Another Iraqi dismissed Saddam's call to arms.
"Saddam is nobody these days. He has no power, no army, no friends. What can he do now?" Kahtan Muhhamad asked.
The voice on the tape said it was made this month, but the exact date was not clear. Al-Arabiya said it received the tape Tuesday. The widely watched satellite station broadcasts across the Middle East, including in Iraq.