Fierce fighting was reported Monday in the southern Iraqi city of Basra between the Republican Guard and opponents of President Sad-dam Hussein, including defeated soldiers arriving from Kuwait.

Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency, monitored in Nicosia, reported five explosions within 25 minutes at midday in Basra. It said refugees fleeing the violence were streaming into Iran across the border at Shalamcheh.IRNA also said Iraqi refugees told reporters in Iran that Saddam's eldest son, Udai, was killed in the battle, along with a provincial governor and the mayor of Basra.

An Iraqi opposition leader in Damascus, Syria, also reported the killings Sunday of the governor and mayor but did not mention Saddam's eldest son.

The Iranian agency said the refugees reported government forces were using tanks and heavy weapons to battle the reb-els. It said the sound of explosions could be heard 25 miles away in the Iranian city of Khorramshahr.

IRNA said some people were wounded in the clashes. The reports, which come from sources who oppose Saddam and would like to see him overthrown, could not be independently confirmed.

Quoting an Iraqi refugee who identified himself as Oud Jalil Sekar from Tanuma, IRNA said Iraqi soldiers had broken into army warehouses in Basra and distributed food and other supplies to residents.

Sekar was quoted as saying he walked from southern Iraq into Iran and on his way saw many old men and women as well as many children along the road.

He added that allied forces had begun handing over the bodies of Iraqi soldiers killed in action to the people of Basra for burial.

Anti-Saddam demonstrations were reported during the weekend in five eastern Iraqi cities, Iranian media said.

U.S. military sources said 7,000 soldiers were recalled to Baghdad, apparently to protect Saddam. The sources said Saddam ordered two mechanized brigades from the Turkish and Iranian borders to the capital.

Iraq's official radio portrayed Saddam as maintaining a firm hold on power and has not commented on the reports of unrest.

IRNA said refugees arriving in the western Iranian city of Ahvaz said the people had taken control of Basra and that there had been an escalation in anti-government demonstrations throughout Iraq.

Udai Hussein, 28, has served as an aide in his father's "special bureau," the president's private security and intelligence unit.

A few years ago it appeared Sad-dam was grooming him as his successor. However, in October 1988 Udai bludgeoned to death one of Sad-dam's favorite bodyguards. Saddam at first ordered him to stand trial but later changed his mind after a supposed public outcry for clemency.

The agency said refugees reported demonstrations in other towns near Basra such as Taunuma and Abul-Khasib. There also were violent clashes reported between government forces and anti-Saddam protesters in al-Amarah, Nassiriya and Kut, Tehran radio said.