03/28/2008 02:45 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Iraqi Sunnis Honor Saddam One Year After Hanging

Saddam Hussein loyalists gathered at the ousted dictator's graveside on Sunday to mark the first anniversary of his execution, with security tight in the regions of Iraq where he drew his most fervent support.

Dozens of Sunni Arab tribal leaders, clerics and students stood at Saddam's burial site in his birthplace of Awja in central Iraq, and read verses from the Koran, an AFP reporter said.

"We will observe this day every year as Saddam is in our hearts," said Ghalib Hammudi, a relative of the former president who was hanged for crimes against humanity on December 30, 2006.

Iraqi security officials said they would deal with any unrest in the Sunni heartland north and west of Baghdad, although the US military said no violence associated with the date had been reported.

Ali al-Nida, chief of the Baijat tribe to which Saddam belonged, said the followers of the Sunni leader held a simple ceremony in Awja to remember him for his role in "maintaining the dignity" of the Iraqi people.

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