US intelligence sources have been unable to confirm that Saddam Hussein survived the March 19 strike on a bunker where he was believed to be staying, a top Pentagon general said Monday.
That information comes from the same intelligence sources that pinpointed Saddam's location before the airstrike, said Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"That doesn't mean he's dead, but he's not visible publicly and he's not been seen or reported to have been seen by anybody," Pace said on PBS' "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer."
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other Pentagon officials have made much in recent days of the fact that Saddam hasn't been seen in public since the airstrike.
Iraqi television has shown several video clips of Saddam, including some speeches in which he apparently refers to fighting during the war. Video broadcast Monday showed him with his sons Oday and Qusay in a meeting with top military commanders but there was no way to verify when it was taped.
The top Iraqi leaders who have appeared publicly have insisted that Saddam is alive and directing his country's war effort.
Pace's comments Monday were the strongest indication yet from Washington that the March 19 airstrike may have killed the Iraqi leader. The United States struck the bunker with Tomahawk cruise missiles and a new kind of satellite-guided, bunker-busting bomb known as the EGBU-27.
Iraqi military units, including those of Saddam's elite Republican Guard, are showing no signs they are getting orders from top Iraqi leaders, Pace said, echoing what other US military officials have been saying for days.
"There's no evidence of coordinated actions on the battlefield by these units," Pace said. "They're being destroyed in place without much leadership from above."
Pace and Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said Monday there were reports that some of Saddam's closest relatives were trying to leave Iraq. Rumsfeld mentioned such reports in interviews Sunday.
Some US officials characterized those reports as unconfirmed rumors, including a specific report that Saddam's first wife was fleeing for Syria. The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, also said they have reports that the Iraqi regime has let it be known to Baghdad elites that they are to remain in the city.