The Special Republican Guard troops that U.S. forces are likely to face in Baghdad are considered the best and most loyal in Iraq's military. The elite force, between 12,000 and 15,000 troops, was culled from the regular Republican Guard to protect Saddam Hussein and his presidential mansions. They are headed by the Iraqi leader's son, Qusai, and are the only military troops stationed in central Baghdad. Many come from Saddam's al Bu Nasir tribe in the area around his hometown of Tikrit.
According to U.N. weapons inspectors, Special Republican Guard forces helped conceal Iraq's work on weapons of mass destruction in the 1990s.
(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.