Morticians had touched up the faces of the sons, Qusay and Uday, to repair damage sustained in the gunbattle with US troops on July 22 in which they were killed, the officials said.

   

"I've been shown the bodies and they do appear to be those of Uday and Qusay," Reuters correspondent Andrew Marshall said from a US military morgue at Baghdad's international airport.

 

It is unclear what the US occupation authorities plan to do with the bodies but the head of Saddam's Bu-Nasir tribe Mahmoud al-Nida requested they be handed over to him.

 

"We made the request and we expect it will be approved," Nida told Aljazeera.

 

Condition

   

One official said they had undergone some post-mortem facial reconstruction -- standard practice they said, not an attempt to deceive the Iraqi people. There was no sign that either of them had committed suicide, they added.

   

"I've been shown the bodies and they do appear to be those of Uday and Qusay."
-- Reuters correspondent
Andrew Marshall
The faces appeared to be in better condition than in photographs issued on Thursday by the US military. Those had been taken in the aftermath of the battle on Tuesday in Mosul.

   

"The two bodies have undergone facial reconstruction with morticians’ putty to make them resemble as closely as possible the faces of the brothers when they were alive," the official said.

   

Qusay's uncharacteristic beard, visible in the original US photographs, had been shaved off but a moustache, which he normally wore, had been retained.

   

A gaping wound in Uday's face, also visible in the earlier pictures, appeared to have been repaired but a hole in the top of his head was still visible to reporters.

 

The officials said they were certain their troops killed the brothers in rocket strikes on the Mosul villa. The US is keen to convince Iraqis they no longer have any reason to fear the former ruling family but many say they remain unconvinced by photographs.

   

It seemed that little short of keeping the bodies on public display in Baghdad will convince some Iraqis. Deep suspicion of US motives in occupying their country have made them a tough audience.

 

Prior to the journalists’, former Saddam Hussein aides and members of the US-controlled Iraq’s Governing Council were shown the corpses.

   

The Iraqi people and the rest of the world were shown photographs of brothers Uday and Qusay's bloodied heads over satellite television on Thursday.