Pentagon: Saddam sons likely killed

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay, could have been killed in a firefight with U.S. troops in northern Iraq, U.S. government officials said Tuesday.

An official said they are "reasonably certain" that the two sons -- key members of Saddam's regime -- were among four people killed during the gun battle.

U.S. troops were involved in an intense firefight in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul earlier Tuesday. A U.S. official said two of those killed in the attack "could be" Qusay and Uday, whom recent intelligence reports indicated were in the Mosul area recently.

"We are reasonably certain they could have met their maker," one U.S. official told CNN. "We didn't just stumble across them."

Two hundred members of the 101st Airborne Division were involved in the assault, and no one was captured, a U.S. official told CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr. Further details were expected shortly.

Military sources in Baghdad said the bodies were those of high-ranking allies of Saddam.

A U.S. official said, there were "indicators" that "prominent figures," possibly Uday and Qusay Hussein, were in the area.

The military went in and engaged in a "big firefight," the official said. "We have bodies that could very well be them," said the U.S. official.

In all, four people were killed in the firefight. The official said Saddam Hussein was not among them.

Both in deck of cards

Both Uday and Qusay are in the playing card deck of most wanted Iraqis issued to U.S. troops in Iraq. Uday is the Ace of Hearts and Qusay the Ace of Clubs

Qusay is the son widely perceived as most likely to succeed Saddam.

As Iraq prepared its defenses in the run-up to the Second Gulf War, Qusay was put in charge of four key areas including Baghdad and Tikrit – the family's tribal home.

When the war began he was in charge of the country's vast intelligence network, the 80,000-strong Republican Guard and 15,000-member Special Republican Guard, who were charged with protecting Saddam and his family.

Uday has a reputation for violence that includes torturing Iraqi athletes who do not meet expectations. He also ran the dreaded Saddam Fedayeen security force.

He was also in charge of the nation's Olympic committee, edited a leading newspaper, Babel, and head of Youth TV, the country's most popular channel.

Just before the second Gulf War, Uday warned Iraqi troops would make the mothers of U.S. soldiers "weep blood instead of tears."