Saddam Hussein's top scientific adviser surrendered to U.S. forces Saturday.
Amer al Saadi, the man who ran Saddam's weapons of mass destruction programs, was No. 34 on the 55-name U.S. "blacklist" and is the highest-ranking Iraqi official to fall into American hands.
The American military will pay rewards for information leading to the capture of Iraqi regime leaders or the discovery of weapons of mass destruction, officials said Saturday. "The price tags vary," U.S. Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks said at coalition headquarters in Qatar, declining to discuss specifics.
Looting continued across the country. Thieves ransacked the Iraq National Museum of hundreds of artifacts dating some 7,000 years, a cultural loss that shocked curators and historians around the globe. Several hundred Iraqi protesters, chanting, "We want an Iraqi leader" and "We want peace," gathered at the toppled Saddam statue in Baghdad to beg American soldiers to restore order.
U.S. officials dispatched the first contingent of 1,200 American police and judicial officers to help troops put a lid on the lawlessness. Iraqi police worked with American Marines to set up joint patrols, expected to begin in a day or two.
Ground troops conducted "ongoing operations" to seize Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, the last of Iraq's major cities to be defended. Coalition commanders didn't expect a large battle, because the regime's backbone already has fled, but they said the war wouldn't end even after a successful invasion.
"If Tikrit falls . . . that's just one more city," Brooks said. "There would still be work to be done beyond that. We still have a tremendous amount of work to be done in the weapons of mass destruction program."
In the western town of Qaim, 15 Iraqi planes were destroyed. Special forces also raided several sites, including an air defense headquarters, a cement factory and a phosphate plant, where two suspicious chemical drums were found. The drums are being investigated, Brooks said, declining to elaborate.
Americans also focused on the city of Kut, southeast of Baghdad, after receiving indications of what Brooks called a "regime presence."
Reinforcements in southern Iraq allowed soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division to arrive in Baghdad, helping to defeat remaining pockets of resistance and begin restoring order. The troops seized five mobile launchers and an al Samoud missile, and Brooks said some shops reopened thanks to the increased American presence.
American troops reached the rubble left from a massive bombing Monday that targeted Saddam and his sons, but it remained unclear if the Iraqi leaders survived. "We have not searched rock by rock, stone by stone," Brooks said.
CASUALTIES TO DATE
U.S. military: 114 dead.
British military: 31 dead.
Iraqi forces: Coalition officials estimate 2,300 killed in the defense of Baghdad.
Former POW Pfc. Jessica Lynch returned to the United States on Saturday, along with about four dozen other injured soldiers. Lynch was bound for Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. In a statement issued in Germany, Lynch's family said the 19-year-old "is in pain, but is in good spirits. Although she faces a lengthy rehabilitation, she is tough. We believe she will regain her strength soon."
The war brought out protesters and supporters Saturday. In Washington, a few thousand gathered in separate demonstrations. Supporters in the "Rally for our troops, rally for America" gathering outnumbered war opponents about 2 to 1. Outside the United States, protests were bigger and decidedly against the war. About 20,000 jammed city streets in a rally for peace in London. Tens of thousands demonstrated in Rome, Paris and Bangladesh.
WEATHER IN BAGHDAD
High temperature: 86
Low temperature: 57
"The U.S. promised to protect us. They destroyed the city and left us. We cannot have freedom if we don't have peace."
_ Hazeem Hashan, a 38-year-old Baghdad resident who said he was protecting his home with a gun.
"Soon the good and gifted people of Iraq will be free to choose their leaders who respect their rights and reflect their character. In all that is to come, they will have the good will of the entire world. And they will have the friendship of the people of the United States."
_ President Bush in his weekly radio address.
(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.