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Saddam Has Not Been Seen Since First Strike, Pace Says

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 1, 2003 – Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has not been seen since coalition forces first launched an air strike on a Baghdad compound March 19, according to Marine Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Interviewed March 31 on PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer, Pace said that based on reports from several intelligence sources that Saddam was in the compound, the U.S.-led coalition conducted a "very specific, precise attack." These same sources report that Saddam has not been "visible publicly" since the strike.

"Since that time although I don't know exactly where Saddam is he has not been seen alive any place," Pace said. "There have been some tapes, but no Saddam.

"So where is he? He's either dead, or he's injured, or he's afraid to come out because his own soldiers will kill him," the general continued. "Or he's afraid to come out because his people will kill him."

Since the strike aimed at Saddam, Pace said, U.S. officials have noted a lack of leadership among Iraqi fighting units.

"There is no evidence that there is senior leadership giving guidance to the field," he said, "and there's no evidence of coordinated actions on the battlefield by the various units. So they're getting destroyed in place without much leadership from above."

U.S. officials have also seen reports that Iraqi leaders' family members are fleeing Iraq, Pace said, adding that coalition forces are on the lookout for them.

"It doesn't surprise me that a group of elite thugs like the people who rule that country would, in the last analysis, want to save their own hides and try to get out of the country," he said.

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