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Iraq: Hussein Bodyguard, Other Officials Captured By U.S. Forces

Prague, 29 July 2003 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. forces in Iraq stormed a building in the city of Tikrit early this morning and captured a bodyguard and two other associates of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. AP identified the bodyguard as Adnan Abdullah Abd al-Musslit and said he was captured along with Hussein's head of security for Tikrit and a leader of Saddam's Fedayeen militia.

General Richard Myers, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, today described central Iraq -- from Baghdad to Tikrit -- as a "war zone."

Myers, in India on a visit, said 80 percent of what he called "security incidents" in Iraq are occurring between Iraq's capital and the hometown of deposed President Hussein. He said the area is "a very challenging environment, a very hard environment."

Meanwhile, "The Washington Post" reported today that the U.S. will pay more than $200 million to feed and airlift the 9,000-strong Polish-led multinational force that will help U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq restore order in the country.

In Baghdad, Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council may elect a chairman for the 25-member body and appoint ministers as early as today.

Shangul Shapuk, a Turkmen representative on the council, told Agency France Press that he expects the announcement to be made today. Any decisions by the council -- formed on 13 July -- can be overruled by U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer.

Yesterday, the U.S. State Department said 30 countries have agreed to participate in an international stabilization force for Iraq, even though the force does not have a specific mandate from the United Nations. The State Department declined to say when or what each of the countries will contribute to the force.

The announcement came as the 50th U.S. soldier died in hostile fire since U.S. President George W. Bush declared major combat operations over in Iraq on 1 May. The soldier died when attackers threw an explosive device at a vehicle from a highway overpass in Baghdad.