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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Coalition Forces Take Iraqi POWs Warily, but Humanely

Aired March 30, 2003 - 20:38   ET

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

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Around midday today, captured Iraqi troops were talking, telling U.S. soldiers how they were forced to fight in Saddam Hussein's most notorious paramilitary group, the Fedayeen Saddam. CNN's Ryan Chilcote was on hand as the 101st Airborne processed some POWs near the city of Najaf.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hooded and tagged, Iraqi prisoners are transferred from one group of American soldiers to another, at least 27 of them surrendering to a long-range artillery unit near the city of Najaf in central Iraq, telling soldiers from the 101st Airborne that they'd been forced to fight for Saddam Fedayeen, a paramilitary group loyal to President Saddam Hussein.

CAPT. TOM WOODS, 101ST AIRBORNE: Fedayeen are trying to compel forcefully local civilians to fight for the Iraqis. Kind of what we suspected. These guys flew for their life rather than fight U.S. forces.

CHILCOTE: A U.S. soldier uses a cheat sheet with Arabic phrases like, "Be quiet." It is a strange mix of comfort and authority.

MAJ. SHAWN PHILLIPS, 101ST AIRBORNE: It's part of just security both for themselves and for us. So it's important to know that although it may look bad, they're being treated very -- very well, actually. Each have their own bottles of water.

CHILCOTE: A small but important gesture.

(on camera): The Army's thinking is that the better the prisoners are treated, the better the chances that other Iraqis, having heard how these prisoners were treated, will also want to surrender.

(voice-over): But for now, security is paramount and time is short. The Iraqis have since been transferred again, this time to the rear, where they will be questioned.

Ryan Chilcote, CNN, with the 101st Airborne near Najaf, Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, next, in our look at how this day unfolded, an accident in the desert. And then a familiar face turns up on Iraqi TV, but this time, he isn't asking the questions, he is answering them, and you may be shocked at what he says. You will want to hear it. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We are continuing our look at the last 24 hours in the war on Iraq. As U.S. troops advanced on Baghdad, a new report comes out at around 3:17 this afternoon of another deadly military setback. A Marine UH-1 Huey helicopter crashed in southern Iraq, killing three people and injuring one. The Pentagon says the crash appears to be an accident, not the result of hostile fire.

BLITZER: Thanks, Anderson. Time now to get a quick check of what sort of weather conditions U.S. troops must contend with tonight and beyond. Here's CNN's Orelon Sidney with the forecast for the war zone.

ORELON SIDNEY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Wolf, thanks a lot. There is good news. It continues to be very tranquil across much of the Middle East. We do have this little area of low pressure way out in the west, around Italy, but this one I think is not going to be a big threat. Maybe later in the week. We'll have to watch it, if it combines with an area of low pressure from the south.

Otherwise, here's the jet stream, and notice that we've got a big ridge of high pressure building across the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea and then continuing across the Middle East. That's the most significant story for the week, I believe, is the warming temperatures. Right now, you're in the 50s and even, as you go into northern Iraq, temperatures close to freezing. Big dome of high pressure, though, builds in for the rest of the week. Temperatures will be close to 90 degrees. In fact, Friday's forecast for Kuwait does call for 91 degrees. So temperatures going to be a lot warmer over the next week. It does look like things will be cooling off, though, as we head on into the weekend.

Right now, it's fairly quiet. We do continue to see some light clouds across the region, but in general, skies are clear. Temperatures in the south are in the 60s. As you head on northward, though, and westward, the temperatures do cool off quite a bit. You're mainly in the 50s as you head back into Jordan. And then continuing northward, it's very cold in the mountains. Readings are close to freezing in that area -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Orelon. It's definitely getting better. The weather's improving here in Kuwait City. I can testify to that from personal experience.

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