Iraqi officials said Sunday that Syrian authorities had captured Saddam Hussein's half-brother and 29 other officials of the deposed dictator's Baath Party in Syria and handed them over to Iraq in an apparent goodwill gesture.This could be huge. Not only was he a leader of the insurgents, he may have been the money conduit that has kept the group in operation. If the funding is cut with his capture, the insurgents are toast.
The arrests dealt a blow to an insurgency that some Iraqi officials claim Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan was helping organize and fund from Syria. The U.S. military said two American soldiers were killed Sunday in an ambush in the capital.
Al-Hassan, a former Saddam adviser, was captured in Hasakah in northeastern Syria near the Iraqi border, two senior Iraqi officials told The Associated Press by telephone on condition of anonymity. Hasakah is about 30 miles from Iraq.
They added that al-Hassan was captured and handed over to Iraqi authorities along with 29 other members of Saddam's collapsed Baath Party, whose Syrian branch has been in power in Damascus since 1963.
"The capture appeared to be a goodwill gesture by the Syrians to show that they are cooperating," one Iraqi official told the AP.
A third Iraqi official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said Syrian security forces expelled al-Hassan from Syria into Iraq after he and his supporters had been turned back in an earlier attempt to cross the Syrian border into Lebanon and Jordan.