BAGHDAD — Shiite militiamen on Monday handed over to the Iraqi government the body of a red-bearded man they claim was one of Saddam Hussein’s top military commanders.
A road in central Baghdad was closed off as a convoy of more than 25 pickup trucks escorted the van containing the body, purportedly that of Izzat Ibrahim Douri, to a vehicle from the city’s main morgue. The corpse was encased in a transparent coffin, giving the crowds and television cameras a chance to view it.
Despite the fanfare, however, there is no solid confirmation that the man inside, killed Friday in a shootout near the city of Tikrit, is Douri, the “king of clubs” in the deck of cards given to U.S. troops during the 2003 invasion to identify key members of the Hussein regime.
Some observers have expressed doubts that the 72-year-old, whose death has been announced on numerous occasions in the past, would have been on the battlefield at all, allegedly fighting alongside Islamic State militants. Douri was rumored to be in poor health and in hiding.