OSNN Senior Addict
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has been arrested, an Iraqi Kurdish representative in Iran said on Sunday, but the Defense Department said it could not confirm the report.
"I confirm that Saddam has been arrested," Nazem Dabag, representative in Iran of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), told Reuters.
The official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted PUK leader Jalal Talabani as saying that Saddam had been captured in his home town of Tikrit.
"The American forces in Tikrit announced that Saddam was arrested on Sunday. The Americans said that they will announce the news officially in the next few hours," IRNA quoted Talabani as saying.
The news agency report was from Qasr-e Shirin in Iran across the border from Iraq. A Talabani aide said the Kurdish leader was in Tehran on his way to France.
The Defense Department said it could not confirm the report. Washington has made Saddam number one on its list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis, and placed a $25 million reward on his head.
U.S. officials had said Saddam, 66, had eluded American troops by moving every few hours, probably in disguise and aided by members of his clan.
The capture of Saddam would be a major morale boost for U.S. troops in Iraq, who have been under daily attack from shadowy guerrillas, some of whom they believe may have been directed by the former president from hiding.
A U.S.-led coalition toppled Saddam in April. His arrest would be a boost for President Bush, whose campaign for re-election next year has been imperiled by setbacks and casualties in Iraq.