AMMAN, Jordan - Saddam Hussein's daughters, in interviews Friday, expressed deep affection for their father but said they didn't know where he is and that they last saw him a week before the Iraqi war started.
Raghad Saddam Hussein and Rana Hussein, who received sanctuary a day earlier in Jordan, appeared relaxed as they spoke with CNN and the Arab satellite station al-Arabiya at a royal palace in Amman, where they are staying with their nine children.
They described tearfully leaving Baghdad the day the capital fell to coalition forces April 9. The sisters were poised but appeared to choke up somewhat as they talked about their family.
"He was a very good father, loving, has a big heart," Raghad Hussein, wearing a fashionable white headscarf showing part of her light brown hair, told CNN. Asked if she wanted to give a message to her father, she said: "I love you and I miss you."
"He had so many feelings and he was very tender with all of us," Rana said in the same interview. "Usually the daughter is close to her mother, but we would usually go to him. He was our friend."
They refused to discuss their brothers Odai and Qusai, who were killed in a shootout with U.S. forces in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on July 22.
Before arriving in Jordan, Raghad and Rana had reportedly been living in humble circumstances in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, since their father's ouster.
The two daughters had lived private lives and - unlike their brothers - were not believed to be wanted for crimes linked to their father's brutal regime. Instead, the women were seen by some as victims of Saddam, who ordered their husbands killed in 1996.
Raghad told al-Arabiya that the swift fall of the Iraqi capital on April 9 came as a "great shock" and she blamed it on a betrayal by associates of the deposed leader.
"With regret, those my father trusted, whom he had put his absolute confidence in and whom he had considered on his side - as I understood from the newspapers - betrayed him," Raghad said.
She did not say who betrayed Saddam in the portion of the interview that was broadcast.
Rana said she last saw her father a week before the war started.
Raghad said she spent the night before Baghdad fell to coalition forces listening to the radio in the upscale Mansour district of the Iraqi capital in the company of Rana and their children.
"I used to pray and then tell my sister Rana, 'I think that everything is over,' " she said. "I was convinced that everything was over."
At noon the day Baghdad fell, she said her father sent a car from the special security forces, "who told us to leave." She said the Qusai Hussein's wife and her children were with them.
"The farewell moments were terrible," she said. "The boys were hugging each other and crying. We left Baghdad. Then I met my mother after a few hours and Hala (younger sister)."
She said they were put in a house on Baghdad's outskirts.
"There was almost no link with (my) father and brothers because everything was over."