Video suggests aide to Iraq's Saddam may still be alive

Fighters of Shiite militia group Kataib Hezbollah, with people prepare to deliver the body of a man believed to be Ezzat al-Douri, to the Iraqi government in Baghdad April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A video clip broadcast on Saudi-owned television on Thursday suggested that a former right-hand man to late Iraqi president Saddam Hussein who Iraqi forces and Shi’ite militias said had been killed a year ago may still be alive.

Ezzat al-Douri, ranked by Washington after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion as the sixth most-wanted Iraqi and later a leader of Iraq’s Sunni insurgency, appeared in footage on al-Hadath TV wearing the green military uniform of Saddam’s Baath Party.

Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the video, but comments he made about the war in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has been leading a military intervention since March 2015 against the Iranian-backed Houthis, provided a rough time-frame.

“In Yemen, there are two ways to expel the Persians (Iranians) and liberate it: the first way ... is to force Iran and its agents to comply with the (U.N.) Security Council resolutions,” Douri said in the video.

“The second course is to escalate the pursuit of Iranian agents to end all their abilities and potential.”

Iraq said in April 2015 that Douri had been killed in a military operation and Kataib Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Shi’ite militia, later said it had conducted DNA tests to prove Douri’s death.

Photographs of a man bearing some resemblance to him were circulated at the time, though Baghdad had previously announced Douri’s death several times in error.

Iraqi and U.S. officials accused Douri of helping to organize and lead the insurgency allying former Baathist officers and Islamists that swept Iraq in 2005-07 and a $10 million reward was offered for his capture.

But he evaded capture during the long U.S. occupation as other Saddam aides were killed or put on trial and sectarian civil war engulfed the country.

Reporting By Stephen Kalin; Editing by Catherine Evans