CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
War on Iraq: LIVE FROM THE FRONT LINES: Iraqi Missile Strikes Kuwaiti Mall Almost Exactly as Iraqi Ministry of Information Building Bombed
Aired March 28, 2003 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: An enormous explosion apparently near Iraq Information Ministry in Baghdad and for the first time in the weeklong war, a week plus now, a successful Iraqi missile hit in the center of Kuwait. It is just after 4 a.m. on what has been an eventful night in Persian Gulf in both Baghdad and Kuwait City. I am Aaron Brown at CNN center in Atlanta. Good evening -- Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening Aaron, it was just a coincidence but both explosions in the two cities happened just about the exact same time. In Baghdad, it appears the target of the attack was indeed Iraq's Information Ministry. There was a flash. A shower of what look likes sparks and then clouds of white smoke and dust and the Kuwait city explosion apparently was caused by a missile that hit near a shopping mall. It was 1:45 in the morning and the mall was closed, only one person was slightly injured. Let's bring in CNN's Miles O'Brien. He's got some more on all of these explosions, Miles.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, we wanted to talk to you a little bit about the possible weapons in the Iraqi arsenal, as we know it. They might have been used in particular this Kuwait city incident. Tony Meadow (ph) walk us through all this and navigate these shows as Major General Don Shepperd, retired U.S. Air Force and the first thing I'd like to do is just you give a quick lay of the land, I'll you a sense of how compact the country of Kuwait is and how close it is the places that are still not firmly on the grasp of the coalition?
First of all, if you look at this map, Kuwait city is right down here and the distance from here to here is approximately 185 miles, which is about the outer ranges of a Scud missile much closer as I move in would be the Basra area and Basra is only about 80 miles away from Kuwait city.
Let's move in on Kuwait city and as we do that and give you a sense of that distances. Talk to Don Shepherd about some of the possibilities. First up on our list the one that we hear so much about is that Scud missile told you about that 185 mile an hour range. Let's get the particulars up to the screen on it and Don Shepherd you're skeptical that it is one of these.
GEN. DONALD SHEPPERD, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I don't think it is, Miles because the system is queued to look for the Scud missile, which is a high-altitude launch. It goes up and comes down from high altitude. I believe the radar and I believe the satellites would have seen it and issued air defense warning. There were no air defense warnings, Miles. I don't think it's a Scud-B.
O'BRIEN: All right. Another one is a possibility that we know is in the Iraqi arsenal is the Ababil, which is kind of a derivative of the Al-Fatah (ph), Al-Samoud range a lot titer 62 miles. What are your thoughts on that one be the possibility?
SHEPPERD: Well, we've seen ten of these launch into Kuwait from the Iraqi desert, although the pieces of metal that I saw at the shopping center do not appear to be from this missile. It's a much smaller missile than the pieces that I saw Miles. I don't think that's it either.
O'BRIEN: All right finally on list there, would you consider to be the likely suspect Chinese made missile designed to strike at ships at sea, the Silkworm is what it is called. Tell us what you know about it?
SHEPPERD: An anti-shipping missile of about a 60 mile range about 1,000 pound warhead. It looks like a V-1 Buzz Bomb from World War I. The pieces that I saw appeared to be from this missile. I think that's what it is Miles.
O'BRIEN: All right. Let's look at those pieces that caught your eye here. Some of the video we have seen in Kuwait city as this has unfolded before our eyes and if you look at the video and compare it to what we know about this missile. There is a pretty good match to what we are queuing that up, I'll show you the distances here. As we look closer here on the (UNINTELLIGIBLE). The distance from Kuwait city to the one is that image that we found at the federation of American scientist site. That's a Silkworm missile. If you match that up with the pictures that have fed in over the course of this incident, very close match. Right Don Shepperd?
SHEPPERD: It is indeed a rocket launch. It's got about a 60- mile max range. It's not very accurate. It's a tear weapon that launching it into a populated area, which appears this was. It would be a tear weapon, Miles. I think this is the culprit.
O'BRIEN: Let's go back to satellite image quickly on (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I just want to show you exactly what we're talking about here in Kuwait city. This event happening right on the coast there. The distance from there to there, which is Basra, is approximately 80 miles. Now, that would be the outer edges of its range for accurate fire, but nevertheless, it could travel 80 miles at least.
SHEPPERD: Indeed, it could, Miles and also the bad guys still on Basra, the British are trying to clean it up but it's not owned yet. It will be very likely that it came from that area and the fact that there was no air raid warning. It comes in low level like a cruise missile and again think of the V-1 Buzz Bomber from World War II. That's what this appears to be like high.
O'BRIEN: Would this is on the scene, telling our reporter John Vause who is there that it did in fact come from the northeast giving us one more shred of evidence, which puts it toward the Basra region anyway. We'll send it back to Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much. Very interesting. Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been over at this shopping mall, not very far away from where I am covering this story. He is joining us now live on the phone. Sanjay, by all accounts now it seems to have been a missile that hit near the mall not necessarily directly the mall. Over to you joining us now via satellite. Sanjay, tell us what's happening right now at the scene?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes Wolf. We've gotten a little closer to the actual mall now say for about 50 feet behind the portico, which and then which is about a 100 feet from the water where it's likely this missile hit. It appears to have taken out a walking bridge that led out to appear. Wolf, I got a couple of pieces here, I know, you've been seeing some pieces. This is sort of a greenish piece of metal. It's obviously twisted. It's dark on the outside. It smells little bit of carbon.
I should add that I got the OK to actually pick this up from our nuclear biological and chemical expert here. Here you see another piece. This almost appears to be a component of some sort obviously also very fragmented and then Wolf this is a piece of tile. This tile actually comes from the outside of mall. Just a small reflection you can actually see the outside of the mall from where these tiles came.
But more dramatically now Wolf, this portico shots that we have been talking so much about wanted to look now over my left shoulder. This is a shopping mall. Look at the devastation on the roof of this particular portico throughout. This is after cleanup efforts are already under way. There is lots of debris on the ground. There are holes throughout the ceiling and the cleanup efforts are in progress right now.
The another piece here someone has just handed me appears to be another component it appears to have some Chinese writing on it. You can take a look at that it has a wire sticking out. It has circuit board of some sort perhaps that's what it looks like at least from events but I am not an expert in these things by any means. This is a better sort of look at the devastation and some of what we are finding again. I got the OK to pick up all these things. They have been tested and are not considered dangerous. Aaron, back to you.
BROWN: Sanjay, thank you. That gives us a lot more credence so the Chinese lettering to what General Shepperd was talking about in a minute ago and just one quick note, when you look at the damage in that mall but then you consider if that missile had hit just a few more feet or few more yards over than it did, the kind of damage it in fact could have gone. It could have collapsed that entire part of the portico in a very different scene. So in some respects it is a lucky miss. Sanjay, thank you.
It's been called the longest air assault operation in the history of military warfare what is going on now as we take a look at the broader war that takes place and today yet again scores of coalition infantry soldiers were dropped deep into Iraq to take part in the establishment of a front. CNN's Steve Nettleton is embedded with the 173rd Airborne. He joins us live by phone. He is Northern Iraq with them, Steve.
STEVE NETTLETON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, it's a lot more quite right now after as we approach the dawn all I can hear right now are the hums of generators and the snores of soldiers. Just a few hours ago it was literally screaming with the sound of C-17 Air Force Cargo Jets just tumbling down runway. You never could actually see them coming there. Their arrival was heralded by a burst of the reverse thrusters of the engine and a black mass sort of seeping across the horizon screeching to a halt and then eventually rolling in front of us.
The Cargo began to -- it was unloaded along with soldiers. We saw military vehicles Humvees, heavy caliber weapons, missiles, various supplies for the soldiers. It was a very surreal experience. The night still video made it look sort of like an alien
Landscape although it didn't quite reveal the colors you could see the various chemical lights of blue and green and just pitch black. It's actually quite amazing how efficiently they can move about the tarmac and these planes can land without even seeing anything with the naked eye. Of course they are equipped with night vision night goggles.
The off loading is continuing. The troops are being re-supplied. More troops arrive on each plane and make their way to various positions around the airfield as they expand their position. They are getting poised to perhaps take offensive action in the future although that has not been. We have no information about any planned operations and so things continue at a brisk pace here -- Aaron.
BROWN: Steve just lets puzzle pieces together here. This all started for you and for our viewers, what now, three nights ago when the first 1,000 paratroopers dropped in. Then came another wave and we are looking at some of those pictures of those young soldiers jumping out of those airplanes and heading in. This is all of a whole. This is to establish a Northern front. It started with this first group and it has progressively gotten larger.
NETTLETON: That is correct. The next waves are all coming in by planes that are landing and yes they are building this larger force. It's not clear what they are going to do as I say their main concern is build this stability here, to provide an anchor up here perhaps discouraging various groups from fighting it out by making a U.S. presence. However, they're also well equipped to start to perform the operations that are perhaps the U.S. Central Command might be necessary in taking on Iraqi defenses up here or other types of operations they might seen needed.
BROWN: Steve Nettleton, thank you very much, nicely done. Steve is with the 173rd Airborne. They are up in the North. Steve said it's not precisely clear where they will end up but as every soldier over there is told and every marine over there is told the road home goes to Baghdad eventually. Pentagon is waging battle on a different front today, battling perceptions that it failed to anticipate how long and particularly how hard the war in the Iraq will be.
CNN senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre says the Defense Secretary is placing the blame on the media.
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pentagon briefings have become the frontlines in a raging battle over how the war is perceived to be going. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld criticizing what he called massive volumes of television and breathless reporting.
DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: We are seeing mood swings in the media from highs to lows to highs and back again, some times in the single 24-hour period.
MCINTYRE: Rumsfeld said he had only seen the headlines on Washington Post and New York Times articles reporting that the commander of the US ground forces Lieutenant General William Wallace answered, it's beginning to look that way when asked if the war would be longer than expected. The enemy we're fighting is different from one we were against, he also conceded.
WILLIAM WALLACE, LIEUTENANT GENERAL: F-16 delivering precision guided ammunition.
MCINTYRE: The Pentagon countered with a montage of cockpit videos of successful air strikes and maps showing that U.S. and British forces controlled as much as 40 percent of Iraqi territory and 95 percent of the skies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The plan is sound. It's been executed and it's on track and that's essentially what General Wallace did say to. He said we are about where we expected to be. That's one of his quotes as well.
MCINTYRE: After delays caused by mines in the Harbor, humanitarian aid on a British ship has finally reached the port of Umm Qasr. The Pentagon insist delays in getting food, fuel and ammunition to U.S. troops on the frontlines in Iraq where mostly due to the sand storms and dismissed any attacks on the 300 mile long supply lines as "militarily insignificant". But even this the U.S. encircles Baghdad and moves Apache Helicopters in position to pound Republican Guard troops, the Pentagon admits there is a key unknown. The extent to which the Iraqi people may feel a Patriotic fervor to resist US forces and to liberate them, despite being a lynch bin of US policy Rumsfeld insists the Iraqi mood is unknowable.
RUMSFELD: They might even feel a little different if the death squads are not standing next to them with guns to their heads but why should I try to speculate as to what it will be since we will soon know.
MCINTYRE: Pentagon officials privately admit that they may have a significant number of the Iraqi population who don't support the liberation although they feel confident that in the North they will be welcomed and probably in large areas in the South as well, central Iraq may be a little bit more problematic because Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said today he said we are one week into this and he says it seems to me it's a bit early for the history to be written one would think.
BROWN: Well it would be hard to argue, any one to argue with where we came to this, Jamie thank you. We will be talking to you more as the night goes on. Jamie McIntyre, senior Pentagon correspondent. We take a break. Our coverage on a very, very busy night continues live from the frontlines.
BROWN: All this talk about the United States military possibly having miscalculated the war has certainly put the White House on the defensive. Before he left for Camp David for the weekend President Bush tried to prepare the nation for yet more casualties but made it clear the United States will prevail. Here is CNN's White House correspondent Dana Bash.
BUSH: Against this enemy we will accept no out come except complete victory.
DANA BASH, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, (voice-over): Capping a week of public appearances to rally support and manage expectations, the President used the megaphone of his post to send the message the war is on track.
BUSH: The regime that wants to terrorize all of Iraq now controls a small portion of that country. Coalition troops continue their steady advance and are drawing near to Baghdad. We are inflicting severe damage on enemy forces.
BASH: Mr. Bush speaking before war veterans at the White House spoke of the brutality of the Iraqi regime towards Prisoners of War and its own people and promise American will soon liberate.
BUSH: And we refused to leave the Iraqi people in slavery under Saddam Hussein. When the war in Iraq is won, all who have joined this cause will be able to say to Iraqi people we were proud to fight for your freedom.
BASH: Day nine of the conflict, a senior presidential aide said that Commander in Chief is irritated by silly reporter questions of a flawed battle plan. Talk of a longer war ahead than anticipated and constant television analysis.
BUSH: We haven't been welcome as liberators as yet, and we haven't quite got rid of Saddam Hussein yet.
BASH: The White House said Mr. Bush never put a timetable on this war and did prepare the nation in speeches like this one in October.
BUSH: Military conflict could be difficult and Iraqi regime faced with its own device may attempt cruel and desperate measures.
BASH: Now just before the war began Vice President Cheney said, it would be "relatively, quick, weeks rather than months." The White House is saying that he also made clear that there could be complication ahead and tonight, a senior Bush aide says, that it was very difficult to prepare the nation for war and all that goes along with it, when they were still dealing with diplomatic issues at hand -- Wolf.
BLITZER:: Dana Bash, our White House correspondent thanks very much.
In this important programming note Sunday I will have chance to ask the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff General Richard Myers, some of the question that so many of us want to ask about the course of this war. General Myers will my special guest at a special edition of late edition that is Sunday noon Eastern -- Aaron.
BROWN: Well, how the Iraqis ultimately receive the coalition will no doubt be influenced by the degree to which humanitarian supplies can get in, as first the aid ship of badly needed supplies that we have been talking about arrived in Umm Qasr with the help of some unexpected allies. U.S. led forces cleared the waterway of Iraqi mines using specially trained dolphins.
CNN's Kyra Phillips met some of those dolphins and reports now.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are at the U.S.S Gunston Hall (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ship out here in the Persian gulf also home to the Navy's mammal program with me now Paul Robinson (ph), he is the handler of these dolphins. We've got Taffy (ph) and Kaydog (ph) with us. Well let's talk about these dolphins. Number one mission out here is to find mines. Let's talk about biosonar and how it works?
PAUL ROBINSON, DOLPHINS CARETAKER: OK, well biosonar basically they have this -- this is what we refer to small. They can shape their (UNINTELLIGIBLE) they can create a high frequency of sound making shape and project that sound out. When it hits an object as a mine or shape, when it bounces back they will receive it through their lower jaw and it will gave a mental image of what it is out there in the water.
PHILLIPS: So, whey they find a mine, detection and then the marking. How do they mark the mine?
ROBINSON: OK. Well, the detection basically works where they come up and they'll report to me by raising their head from here and showing their underside of their belly. The marking will (UNINTELLIGIBLE) small marker. It's got to wait at the bottom, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and they will go up and drop it within proximity to a mine in that we can map the location of the mine.
PHILLIPS: Now, some post might think you are putting these mammals in harms way. ROBINSON: Yes that's good question. These animals are very well taking care of. The get the best food, they get the best care. The animals in captivity, they live longer they (UNINTELLIGIBLE). In the wild they only live like 25 on the average, here they will live upwards 45 to 50 years old.
PHILLIPS: From the USS (UNINTELLIGIBLE), I am Kyra Phillips, CNN.
BLITZER: It's one of the toughest jobs in the U.S. military. Next, finding the word to tell a parent, their sons, or a child their loved one in the casualty of the war as CNN's Brian Cabell tells us something that's makes the job even more painful.
BRIAN CABELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The problem is some international networks such as Al Jazeera are conveying that news on TV screens before the military can, its notification officers to the homes of the next of kin.
BLITZER: The city of Nasiriyah continues to be the setting for some of the most intense fighting of this war so far, however, U.S. Marine say the city is close to being secured and today they were able to retrieve and bury the bodies of some of their comrades.
A Marine captain says, some Iraqi civilians came out and showed his company the location of some makeshift graves where two had been buried -- Aaron.
BROWN: Well, when that happens, families have to be told, and undoubtedly one of the most difficult jobs in the military, at least emotionally is notifying family members when U.S. troops are killed or captured or wounded in battle. Their job is incidentally more complicated these days because of the unprecedented media coverage of this war, not so much because of American media which holds off until families are notified by and large but because of so much media available to people. Here is CNN's, Brian Cabell.
CABELL (voice-over): It's a simple two hour class with an absolutely vital purpose, teaching army officers how to notify next of kin, a soldier has died, is missing in action, or has been captured.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's basically common sense, professionalism, sympathy, empathy and candid.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The expectation is that these officers will be the first to convey the somber, even tragic news to relatives.
CABELL (on camera): But during this war, it hasn't always worked out that way. The problem is some international networks such as Al- Jazeera are conveying that news on TV screens before the military can get its notification officers to the homes of the next of kin.
That's exactly what happened with Anecita Hudson the mother of specialist Joseph Hudson, who was captured by the Iraqis last weekend.
ANECITA HUDSON, MOTHER OF POW: When I saw him today in the Beating Big Joe in the Filipino Channel, I was so shocked and I was a bit confused and I start crying.
CABELL: She had heard nothing from the army. Her news came from the Filipino Channel she subscribes to. Why the delay in the army's notification? Because the army says, it doesn't want to make any mistakes.
LT. KENNETH FILLMORE, U.S. ARMY: The army policy is to only give confirmed information. If we don't give confirmed information then Pandora's box will be opened up.
CABELL (voice-over): A similar situation for a Georgia family on Monday. The army notified them their son Chief Warrant Officer Ronald Young was missing in action after his helicopter went down in Iraq. It was only when CNN correspondent Susan Candiotti showed them video from Abu Dhabi TV of their son as a POW that they knew for certain that he was alive.
KAVE YOUNG, MOTHER OF POW: I have cried so much that I just don't think I have any tears left but at times it smells it is like a bad journey -- this is like a bad journey.
CABELL: The Young's weren't officially notified by the army until a day later that their son was, in fact, a POW.
A solemn military tradition, a notification visit is under assault by the technology of our connected world. So far, only POW families have been affected. But, as it prepares these officers for their painful missions, the U.S. military says it hopes no next of kin will ever learn from TV a loved one has been killed on the battlefield.
Brian Cabell, CNN, Fort Stewart, Georgia.
BROWN: LIVE FROM THE FRONTLINES continues in a moment.
BLITZER: In case you're just tuning in, here's look at what's happened in Iraq over the past few hours. CNN's Miles O'Brien has been keeping track.
O'BRIEN: 10:03 AM Eastern Time, 6:03 PM in the Gulf. CNN's Christiane Amanpour reports from Umm Qasr the humanitarian ship, Sir Galahad has begin off loading 200 tones of food, water, blankets and other supplies.
10:57 AM: CNN's Kevin Sites in the northern city of Chamchamal now under Kurdish control, reports the city has come under artillery fire from Iraqi positions east of Kirkut. 11:05 AM: Central Commander reports one member of the First Marine Expeditionary Force was killed -- another injured, Wednesday night, when a US tank ran over them.
1:00 PM: An Iraqi hospital official says more than 50 people were killed, 50 others wounded in an attack in a busy Baghdad neighborhood know as Al-Shaula. Arab media say a coalition air raid is to blame. No confirmation of that.
1:20 PM: Defense Secretary Rumsfeld warns countries bordering Iraq that helping Saddam Hussein may be considered a hostile act. He says the coalition has seen military supplies crossing the border from Syria.
5:02 PM: More huge explosions rocked Baghdad and it appears the information ministry may have been hit.
5:42 PM: Wolf Blitzer reports, an explosion at a shopping mall in Kuwait City. Kuwaiti authorities say it was a missile strike.
BLITZER: And that's a pretty good look at the day -- where is it all going even as the cruise bombs fell over Baghdad eight days ago. There certainly was a sense in the county whether it was fair or not that the Allied victory would be quick, that Iraqi resistance would fall quickly, that surrenders would be en masse, that there'd be an uprising -- whoever is responsible for that -- in any case, it has not happened. Thomas Ricks, writing for the Washington Post has created quite a stir with a piece that he wrote the other day when it was headlined, "War could last months." Mr. Ricks joins us from the Post newsroom tonight.
Setting aside, Tom, what he said from the podium to the Generals and the Colonels, and Lieutenant Colonels you're talking to acknowledge now that they miscalculated the Iraqi plan and the Iraqi willingness to fight.
THOMAS RICKS, "WASHINGTON POST" CORRESPONDENT: They do. I thought, in a real act of moral courage, Lieutenant General Wallace, the US commander on the ground in Iraq, the most senior US army general there said, on the record tonight, colleague Rick Atkinson, that they miscalculated, they have not war games against enemy of this sort. War game makes it sound like it's something facetious -- it's not.
It's a very serious attempt to rehearse a battle that you are about to go into, and General Wallace also said, on the record, that he thought this war would last longer then they'd expected going in and that caused a lot of fancy footwork at Central Command today as a one star General, much lower in rank, General Vincent Brooks tried to deal with General Wallace's, three star General, comments made on the record about this.
BLITZER: And how did he -- is it possible to square sort of what's coming from the podium and what you're hearing -- what reporters -- all of us are hearing now from commanders in the field. Is there any way that they come together? RICKS: They do but in an odd way. It's not what's said at the podium that's significant it's what's not said. It struck me today -- I haven't even written about this yet. That when they say we're on plan or ahead of plan, that's a very mixed blessing for a commander in the field. Ahead of plan is another way of saying we are outran our supplies.
RICKS: We outran our reinforcements; we don't have anybody looking over our shoulder right now. So we're a little bit more ahead of where we want to be. So being ahead of plan is not exactly a great thing even though they make a sound like that on the podium.
BLITZER: And just underscore the complexity of what's going on -- the ability of the Iraqi's to launch a missile tonight into Kuwait, obviously a missile that came well behind where the coalition forces have advanced to has to be looked at as a significant problem.
RICKS: I'm not sure it's a militarily significant problem; it's a politically significant problem. It's sending the signal that, "Hey, we're still here and you can't get us." And that's probably one of the risk that was inherent in this plan -- it was very elegant, very lean, very thin in troops. They did not plan to put in hundreds of thousands of troops to occupy southern Iraq and that means they're not getting to every possible place, every backyard where somebody might have hidden one of these missile launchers.
BLITZER: Tom, your story got lot of attention the other day and we appreciate your time tonight. We know it's a very busy time for you to -- there's no doubt that some of Baghdad's civilians have become causalities of war -- that's absolutely clear by what happened today, they are -- whether they are victims to the coalition and the coalition's missiles or possibly victims of Iraqi anti-aircraft fire that comes back to earth or perhaps something more sinister, it's a very complicated thing to sort out, but we'll take a stab at it after a short break.
BLITZER: British Central Command says that Iraqi militia units fired on their own people today. The British military officials say about 2000 Iraqi civilians were trying to get out of the city of Basra, which has been a very messy place now for about four days. They were streaming across the bridge to the south when according to the British, Iraqi troops hit them with machineguns and mortars. Some did make it across the bridge to safety; hundreds of others turned back and retreated into the city. Once the civilians were out of the way, British tanks opened fire on the Iraqi troops. Again this is according to the British military command.
The United Nations wants to help ease the suffering of the Iraqis in Basra and elsewhere. The Security Council has given unanimous approval today to begin again Iraq's "Oil-for-Food Program." About 60 percent of the Iraqis rely on this program for their survival. The resolution affects about $2.5 billion with the supplies that are already in the pipeline for Iraq, it's up to the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to decide when it is safe enough on the ground to get the food to the people who are hungry and clearly need it.
And we're looking at some pictures now, live pictures from the Army Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, DC. These are U.S. military personnel who have been injured here in the war in Iraq. They are being brought to Walter Reed for additional medical treatment. Walter Reed is the U.S. army sophisticated medical center in the nation's capital. These are U.S. military personnel who are injured.
Presumably, they were first flown to the Ramstein Airbase in Germany taking to the Landstuhl Hospital, which is a few miles away from Ramstein and now they have been brought to Walter Reed where they will get some advanced medical treatment casualties from the war in Iraq being brought to Walter Reed for sophisticated treatment. You're familiar Aaron with this hospital. This is where some of the most famous top officers have been brought over the years so that's where these soldiers are about to be treated as well.
BROWN: We talk all the time about the sophistication of the American weapon systems and all the rest. It is no less -- we no less marveled. Stay on this picture guys for a second. We no less marveled at the ability of the coalition and in this case, the American side to get their wounded to the best possible treatment as quickly as possible and that too is a complicated with just a matter. The doctors have to be on claims, three hours of course is in place in the field with Sanjay Gupta now along go with the double-docks but there is a series of stages that they go through from Shriaz (ph) to Germany, to immediate care, to more and now at Walter Reed in Washington area.
We are just getting a release from there. I'm not sure that there is a whole lot of substance add to it, so we will just look at the pictures of these young soldiers who probably three days ago, four days ago at the most around the battlefield, wounded, taking care off and now brought home for the best medical treatment the country can provide for them, we believe.
BLITZER: You know Allen there is a huge hospital ship, the USS Comfort that's here in the Persian Gulf as well. I think it have 800 or 1000 beds with very, very sophisticated rooms, surgical procedures there as well where wounded personnel can be brought but I think so far most of the wounded, with significantly wounded have been taken to Ramstein and now as we just saw some of them have been brought to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. The air war of course continues in downtown Baghdad. The latest blast that shook the city a few hours ago apparently hit the Ministry of Information. Iraq's Ministry of Information now saying that it was a U.S. cruise missile that hit a Baghdad marketplace earlier in the day killing at least 52 people.
And the Pentagon says it's looking into what cause the destructions here as, Nic Robertson, is joining us. Once again, he has been monitoring what's going on in the Iraqi Capital. Nic what can you tell us? NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly the impact that seems to have happened very, very close to the Ministry of Information that was almost caught on a camera located actually physically on the first floor level on the roof of the first floor level of the Ministry of Information. The level and debris after that explosion landing right by that camera giving you an indication of just how close the explosion was, not clear of what damage it may have done to the Ministry of Information because right to the left hand side of that camera, if you will literally perhaps 15 or 20 feet away would have been the rest of the Ministry of Information rising up perhaps another 8 or 10 floors above that particular position. One would imagine if there have been a direct impact right on the center of the building, a lot more debris may have come down and the cameras that are positioned there may have suffered more damage and perhaps they knocked off completely.
So, it's difficult to access what the damage would be there. Certainly in the South of Baghdad where there was clearly some kind of explosion. This evening residents were standing around a gaping hole in the concrete and journalists were urged by Iraq's Ministry of Information go out to the site, check out what it has happened. The Iraqi officials saying that this was a cruise missile impact in a crowded market in Baghdad and journalists also went to the neighboring hospital. Hospital officials told journalists the same thing that over 50 people have been killed, more than 50 people injured as well.
They all said that this was a result of a Coalition cruise missile (UNINTELLIGIBLE) there in Baghdad impossible for us to make a firm analysis and certainly coalition officials saying they are not aware that they were targeting anything in that particular neighborhood but it is really heightening if you roll the divisions of what we are seeing in the images of this war. On the one hand Iraqi officials keen to portray the civilians casualties, on the other hand we see frontline conflict going on and certainly as the Arab media plays these particular images from tonight here in this region the words that are going with the pictures of these injured civilians will word such as massacre very, very emotive word at this time.
BLITZER: Nick in the propaganda were the Iraqis clearly are going to have the feel they -- with these kinds of images, especially in the Arab world with their already such deep anger at the United States and Britain for launching this war?
ROBERTSON: Indeed, that's almost a given and it very much seems to be central to Iraq's strategy at this moment. The strategy seems to be several fold, not to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) forces in the South as perhaps they have been initially imagined but to try and slow and hurry (ph) coalition forces in the south of Iraq trying to inflict maximum casualties in the south and we remember back today's briefing President Saddam Hussein was giving all those cheering commanders in the weeks before the war.
The words he was using were "be careful with your own man, save your ammunition, minimize your losses, maximize their losses, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) line of defense, slowing their advance (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a degree to a degree" that is what we are seeing played out. Iraqi forces trying to inflict causalities, trying to slow down the advance of coalition forces towards Baghdad. At the same time plying up all those civilian casualties and of course we don't have a good insight into exactly what is happening in all the Iraqi cities apart from where Iraqi officials show they choose to show their civilian casualties -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Nic Robertson, reporting. Thanks, Nic, very much.
Much more coverage coming up the home front up next from (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and civil disobedience, the flag race against patriotism. Americans make their feelings very well known.
BROWN: Well, our major stories of the today, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld issued a word of caution to one of Iraq's neighbors. He accused Syria of meddling in the war by selling night vision equipment to Baghdad. Incidentally while Iraq and Syria share a border and perhaps in respect of common adversary, they are not always the best of friends. A senior political analyst analyzes politics all over the world that turns out and he has more on this complex relationship as well.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Aaron, Syria and Iraq are family and just like in most families, they have had some pretty serious following outs. Both countries are governed by the Ba'ath Party, which is supposed to be socialist and Arab nationalist. But Iraq's Ba'ath party and Syria's Ba'ath Party went their separate ways quarreling over which one represented true Arab nationalism.
When Iraq invaded Iran in 1980, Syria sided with Iran. When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, Syria joined the multinational Coalition that drove Iraq out of Kuwait. It's only in the last six years that relations began to improve, especially after Syria's longtime leader Hafez al-Asad died in 2000 and his son Bashar took over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHEBE MARR, IRAQ HISTORIAN: The Baath Regime in Syria went its way and the Ba'ath Regime in Iraq went its way, and its real personal as well as political. I don't think (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I know Iraqis (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the regimes themselves, there is no love or was between them. Now, recently since Hafez al-Assad died and the son came in, but that led us (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
SCHNEIDER: Iraq earns over a $1 billion a year from oils shipped through Syria in violation of U.N. sanctions. Military equipment is shipped into Iraq through Syria. Now Secretary Rumsfeld today warned Syria that the U.S. see those military supplies, as a direct threat to Coalition forces in Iraq.
RUMSFELD: We consider such trafficking as hustle acts, and we will hold the Syrian government accountable for such shipments. SCHNEIDER: And things got especially tensed on Monday when five Syrian workers were killed after a U.S. bomb hit a bus in Iraq carrying them back to Syria. Now Syria is classified by the U.S. as a state sponsor of terrorism because it supports Palestinian terrorist groups. But Syria did not quite make it to the axis of evil list. In fact, after September 11, Syria gave the United States crucial information leading to the capture of Islamic terrorists around the world.
So why would Syria want to help Iraq now, because it's afraid that if the U.S. takes over Iraq, it will target Syria next. When President Bush says, victory in Iraq will bring democracy to the region and end support for terrorists, Syrians say, uh oh he is talking about us.
BROWN: Well, thank you Bill Schneider. The Syrians denied of course today that they are sending any of those night vision goggles to the Iraqis -- Wolf.
BLITZER: A serious issue though indeed. Meanwhile, sometimes you can feel it, it doesn't matter what channel you turn to, the war in Iraq is all the time and it's certainly no different outside the United States.
CNN's Bruce Burkhardt takes a close look at how the world is viewing the war.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are watching our continuing coverage of the war on Iraq...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we continue our extensive coverage of the war on Iraq...
BRUCE BURKHARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you want to get away from all of the war coverage it will take more than getting out of the country. It's virtually everywhere.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
BURKHARDT: This is a newscast from Chile and if we have noticed to common threat how this war reported outside the U.S. It's the greater attention paid to the story in Baghdad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
BURKHARDT: Translation, the population has adopted to the severe living constraints. Some super markets and restaurants are staying open until 6 p.m.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
BURKHARDT: That's not to say that every thing is taken face value. Here they are reporting Iraqi claims that the US has dropped cluster bombs on civilians but followed quickly by the disclaimers that they have no independent confirmation of that claim.
But other like this English language news cast on China tend to pass along Iraqi pronouncements without comment. This is their report on a press conference with the Iraqi Information Minister.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And wars that that has not rule out the possibility that Americans will use weapon of mass destructions, also have added that U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is going mad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
BURKHARDT: The use of retired Generals to comment on the battle was not unique to American coverage. This is Nile TV out of Egypt. It's true that Iraqi soldiers out numbered the U.S. forces but this is not a point.
Weaponry is what counts here. Finally this from channel news Asia out of Hong Kong, a Nifty Graphic that shows better than anything else I have seen, a rendition showing the incredible detail of Saddam's bunkers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anti blast tolls lead to decontamination rooms.
BURKHARDT: Bruce Burkhardt, CNN, Atlanta.
BLITZER: And I guess the world is going to have an opportunity to take a close look at these pictures from Baghdad, pictures from here in Kuwait city. A very, very momentous night in this war that have been waging now from more than a week.
Aaron, I got to tell you, during the 5:00 Eastern hour when I was on the air, we had just gone to our commercial break, but all of the sudden during the commercial I heard this huge boom, here in Kuwait City, unaware of course what it was, but it really rocked the place. And all of a sudden we began to see the smoke coming up and of course we then began to realize the suspect what was going on, that was the 13th time apparently the Iraqis have launched the missile at Kuwait and the 13th time they hit something, hit something serious fortunately, no serious causalities, one minor causality, but some expensive damage to a shopping mall.
BROWN: What the Kuwaitis feared from the very beginning. Perhaps their fears had been lessened in the last few days at the last week as the Patriot missile did their job. But, the slow flying missile that hit the mall today or tonight in Kuwait is a remainder that the Iraqi still have the capability to attack back. It's something we'll be keeping our eye on and we'll see that mall much better when day light comes in about an hours or so where (UNINTELLIGIBLE) live is coming up. Well thank you, we'll see you tomorrow. We'll see you all again at 10:00 Eastern Time tonight, until then good day.
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Strikes Kuwaiti Mall Almost Exactly as Iraqi Ministry of Information Building Bombed>