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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Many Kurds Heading for Hills

Aired March 17, 2003 - 10:35   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Kurds living in northern Iraq find themselves especially vulnerable as the talk of war increases, and the threat is within their own country in the form of Iraqi troops, so many Kurds are literally heading for the hills, especially now.
CNN's Jane Arraf in northern Iraq and joins us via videophone.

JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, the diplomatic standoff has sparked an exodus from this city. Police here have been waving through tens of thousand of people, all of them hoping to outrun what they feel is imminent war. Now there are trucks, buses, motorcycles even, all packed to the rafters with belongings, practically everything people can carry away. Children packed into taxicabs. Some of the cars are carrying cradles on top. All of these people are fleeing east further into Kurdish control territory, and they feel the diplomatic process has broken down and war is coming. And if war comes, they say, there is a threat of a chemical attack.

A lot of children we see are laughing and waving, they see it as a big adventure, but the parents are worried. They have very distinct memories of chemical attacks on Kurds by Iraqi forces, none close to here, but fear is great enough they are fleeing in tens of thousand and expected to continue into the night -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Jane Arraf, reporting live via videophone this morning. The Kurds in Northern Iraq afraid, and they have reason to be afraid, especially now since diplomatic efforts have broken down completely.

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