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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Iraq's Information Minister Holds Press Conference

Aired March 30, 2003 - 04:30   ET

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

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's take a quick look at the headlines at the half hour. The U.S. military said it struck Iraqi command and control facilities in Baghdad early on Sunday. One site is known as the Karada Intelligence Complex, which the U.S. military says is involved in cracking down on internal dissent. Two missile sites were also bombed.
U.S. Marines have been going house to house in parts of Nasiriya, seeking out Iraqi fighters and weapons. The Marines also recovered the bodies of Marines killed in earlier fighting. Also discovered were bloody fatigues believed to belong to U.S. soldiers ambushed about a week ago.

Iraq's Vice President vows more suicide attacks against coalition troops, such as the one that on Saturday killed four U.S. soldiers at a military checkpoint near Najaf. U.S. Central Command says that a taxi driver motioned to the soldiers to come closer, and then he blew himself up. Iraqi TV says the bomber was awarded two medals and his family given 35,000 dollars.

The Pentagon says there are 290,000 coalition forces in the Persian Gulf region, and more than one third of those have already entered Iraq.

The U.S. soldier who is suspected of killing two fellow servicemen and wounding 13 others in a grenade attack is back in the U.S. Sergeant Hasan Akbar has not been charged yet, the late night attack was last Sunday against members of the 101st Airbone in Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait.

Iraq's Vice President is rejected the re-authorization of the oil-for-food program, the UN approved the resumption of the program on Friday, but it allows Iraq to sell oil to pay for humanitarian aid. Iraq's VP says that amounts to stealing from the Iraqi people, and using their own money to feed them.

With a lot more war coverage to bring your way just in the next hour alone: tomatoes and the battle for Basra. Yes, we are talking tomatoes. That might seem like an odd mix, but we will explain. Also, the faces of pain in the warzone. Our Christiane Amanpour shares some of the gripping images that she has seen in Umm Qasr. Plus, the burning question on the future of Iraq's oil supply. Its fate could effect the price that you pay at the gas pump. CNN's coverage of the war in Iraq continues right now.

And good afternoon, it is Sunday, March 30th. It is just after 12:30 p.m. from Kuwait City, I am Daryn Kagan. ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And from CNN's global headquarters in Atlanta, I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks a lot for joining us. You're looking at that live picture of Baghdad, and it is to Baghdad we go right now for a press conference with Iraq's Information Minister, let's take that now if we have it.

MOHAMMED SAEED AL SAHAF, IRAQI INFORMATION MINISTER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a racist person. And let's remind you of the modern history. You see that the army that they fought in this WWII, they are actually behaving in the same manner. They are racists. Just because they are Iraqis, they are killing them. And this is the ultimate in war crimes.

The second point, some of the British mercenaries located in Kuwait giving information, I listened to one of them this morning, he talked about nothing that had happened after invading Iraq. What's happened to the British forces, what their victories, what their defeats, from the beginning to the end of his talked, he talked (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it's a joke. It reminds me, if you had, I'm sure (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I had read about it (UNINTELLIGIBLE) there had been a phenomenon called ilconditary(ph). Those latins amongst you are disturbed in Italy, and I know, the world.

(UNINTELLIGIBLE)

They call it the Republican Guard, the Roman Republican Guard. The Roman Empire started to collapse like the Americans now. Those mercenaries called the Republican Guard, they do not get the finance...

COOPER: You are trying to listen to a press conference given by Mohammed Saeed Al Sahaf, Iraq's Information Minister. Obviously, there are conflicting translations. It is obviously a difficult situation. He is speaking English, we're getting it on a broadcast where someone else is speaking Arabic, but there's another translater trying to speak English. It's very confusing, we're going to try to clear it up. We want to talk to our Jason Bellini, who is in the field as he has been since beginning this operation with a group of U.S. Marines, and he is somewhere in Southern Iraq. Jason?

JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Somewhere in Southern Iraq. Hi, Anderson. I'm with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Just the morning I had a chance to speak with Colonel Wellhauser, he is the commander of this unit. Able to bring me up to speed on some of what's going on. First of all, they're very proud of their accomplishments in Umm Qasr, which we have since departed, now that the first humanitarian aid is coming in there. They consider that a success, and now they're no longer assigned to the British. They were working under the British command up until this point. Now they're under the general meth(ph) command and helping with their efforts, helping out in troubled spots, preparing for another assigned mission coming up very soon. You've been reporting all day about problems around Iraq, problems in Basra and Naririya. The most recent numbers that we have are that there are now 59 coalition members dead, there are 7 POWs at the moment, and that, I think, is -- the indications here are that there's a change of strategy taking place that we're hearing about. Originally, the plan was to head towards Baghdad, get up there as quickly as possible, and they did that, they were able to secure the road, secure safe passage for troops, for marines to go up there, but now those areas that were...

COOPER: Jason, I'm sorry (UNINTELLIGIBLE), got to interrupt. We're going to go back to that press conference. We'll come to you shortly, Jason. Let's go listen in to Iraq's Information Minister in Baghdad.

MOHAMMED SAEED AL SAHAF, IRAQ'S INFORMATION MINISTER: This is at the outskirts of Basra. They are destroying 75,900 tons of foodstuffs and other material. And this food is what we use to give as rations in a very just way to the citizens. So 75,900 tons this crook in Kuwait is mentioning that they are bringing 200 tons of humanitarian (UNINTELLIGIBLE). This is very much similar to the example of how to be a conditary(ph) in the 21st century. This is very interesting. If you need, I'll get you the book. It's by a French author.

I have an Arabic translation called Bury(ph) in Badhdad Dreao(ph), by the Chairman of the French Green movement and he is the leader of the Green movement, the book was written in '91, the title Brewing Baghdad and Real(ph). He narrated chapter three, the Toy of the Conditary(ph). Please look at that chapter and read it, whether in French or English or if you read Arabic you can read the Arabic translation, which I have, I can bring it, and it describes what happened to the mercenaries, and it applies to the British mercenaries. They are the conditaries(ph) of this day. They kill families and then they come in the next day and walk in the funeral and they offer their condolences and they say "We are here to help you." This is the way they are behaving. They are talking about humanitarian aid. They destroyed huge quantities of food, and other material that belonged to the civilians of Iraq. They put all of that on fire, and here we have them now saying "We are here to provide humanitarian aid." I think this will show the world a glimpse of what's going on by these invaders when they came to Iraq, and how they're becoming, day after day, very hysterical, and they're giving an example of a very black history.

The third point: I give you some of what happened during the last 24 hours. In the South, in Basra and the town of Medoina(ph), one of the districts of Basra, about 40 or 50 kilometers. Yesterday the fighters of the Iraqi tribes, with other fighters, shot down an Apache helicopter and killed the two pilots, and the other Apache fled. And they buried the two pilots in Zubayir(ph). And it is another district of Basra, the tribespeople there, they downed an unmanned plane, a Predator, and also they destroyed four tanks and they captured or killed all their crews. Those who where killed, they were buried in Zubayir(ph) because orders were issued from now on, especially because we can not leave the corpse, the bodies in the open of the British or the American, we will bury them according to the rituals, each to their respective rituals. And we sent our directives to the embalment entity in Iraq, and that entity will take care of burying those mercenaries.

Those American and British mercenaries bombarded the food store, sorry, they bombarded the... COOPER: You've been listening to a press conference being given by Iraq's Information Minister, Mohammed Saeed Al Sahaf, a man many Americans have come to know and listen to quite often over the last ten days or so. We'll take a short break and we'll be right back.

(COMMERICAL BREAK)

KAGAN: New troops continue to arrive here in Kuwait to go ahead and serve in Iraq and also here in Kuwait. I think some people that come might have the impression that these are troops fresh from the U.S., but as the case with one group I met yesterday, these are men and women who have been out there for many many months and they got the call from here to the war. Here's the story of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

When you're a Marine serving all around the world, you grab a few winks, anywhere, any way, any time you can. Even if your mattress is a pile of gravel.

CORPORAL ANTHONY CAPUCCIO, U.S. MARINE CORPS: That's sort of the norm for us. Gravel, sand, swamp, mud: It doesn't matter, you sleep when you can sleep.

KAGAN: They are Marines from the 24th Expeditionary Unit. You might say they've seen it all. They deployed from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, last August. They went to Kosovo with part of the peace support mission. They also did exercises in Kenya, Djibouti, somewhere in the Gulf Region, and most recently, the Horn of Africa. But they haven't seen war.

These Marines were close to the end of their deployment, possibly days away from going home, when orders came to head to Kuwait. They arrived early Saturday morning, clearly exhausted, yet ready to serve.

CORPORAL SIBLEY MATCHETT, U.S. MARINE CORPS: We know we've been on a long deployment, but now it's time for us to serve our country.

KAGAN: The marines we spoke with don't know exactly what they'll be doing or where they'll be going. Chances are they'll soon be in Iraq, guarding the supply columns bringing food, fuel and ammunition to troops on the southern approach to Baghdad. That has been especially dangerous duty for coalition personnel. These marines believe their long tour has lead to this assignment.

CAPTAIN W. A. HERON, JR., U.S. MARINE CORPS: We've been very fortunate and very blessed to have participated in a number of real- world operations. Not just training exercises, but real-world operations. And as long as you're working, and a marine knows he's contributing, his morale's high.

KAGAN: The Gulf War could be the last real-world operation for these marines before they head home for a much needed rest in their own beds.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

And I want you to know that those marines that you saw in that piece, those are just 200 marines, but they are part of a huge readiness group. It includes three ships, 2300 sailors, and 2000 marines. Do we have the live pictures of Basra ready to go? Alright, actually we're getting some new tape in. This is pictures from Basra, and there are British forces moving into that town. It's the second largest city in all of Iraq, and this has been a key battleground, especially for British forces trying to get control of that city.

I want to go ahead and tell you what's coming up. You're going to meet some of the men and women who actually make the bombs that are put on board the aircraft carriers. That's just ahead, right now we take a quick break.

(COMMERICAL BREAK)

COOPER: Trying to get sleep wherever they can, I can understand that. We are trying to bring you as many stories as we can from all over this region, as well as the voices of the marines, the seamen, the airmen, the soldiers on the ground as we can, and deep within the belly of the aircraft carriers at see are groups of specialists who make the ordinance that is now being dropped on Iraq. CNN's Gary Strieker talked with some of the bombmakers aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GARY STRIEKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Launching from the flight deck of a U.S. carrier, warplanes loaded with bombs. For every mission, there's always more bombs. The flyingfrom(ph) magazines holding thousands of bombs deep within the ship.

LIEUTENANT MATT ARNOLD, ORDNANCE OFFICER: And this one, we have three or four different types. Really, you take a bomb body, then you assemble to bomb body into several different types of weapons.

STRIEKER: Around here they build bombs to order, depending on the targets for each mission.

BERNIE HUGHES, AVIATION ORDINANCEMAN It all starts with (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the magazine. We break them out, we let them out on our bomb table, we put the cams(ph) on, the guidance section, the fuses and everything.

STRIEKER: They assemble unguided bombs, and so called smart bombs, guided to targets picked by sattelites or lasers. The sailors who do this work, the ordinancemen wearing red jerseys, consider themselves a special breed.

HUGHES: We probably have one of the most dangerous jobs on the ship as far as I'm concerned. I'm sure anybody else can tell you when you see red, you just kind of get out of the way.

STRIEKER: But veteran ordinance men say working with these bombs is not as dangerous as many people think. JAMIE STAFFORD, AVIATION ORDINANCEMAN: You know, you can drop this weapon from 15 or 20 feet with zero repercussions. That's just the way they're built, they're built to be safe.

STRIEKER: Tell that to the other sailors on this ship. Many say anyone who works in a red jersey, anyone who handles bombs day after day, is just a little crazy.

And what about the consequences of these bombs? The damage and loss of life?

JUSTIN HUTTON, AVIATION ORDINANCEMAN: We're out here for a reason right now, so I build these weapons to get the job done. I don't take it personally, I have nothing against these people, it's just a job that I have to do.

STRIKER: Gary Strieker, CNN, onboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Eastern Mediterranean.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: We are just getting pictures in now, we want to bring them right now. These are apparently British forces somewhere around Basra. We watched the picture but we're going to try to re-rack them and get them to you as quickly as we can because there is a lot of activity going on, as there has been for several days now in and around Basra. In the last several hours we have heard from a British spokesman who said that in a town that's southeast of Basra, but very close to Basra, there has been an operation underway. I believe some of these pictures are probably from that general vicinity. We're going to take a short break, when we come back, we've got the pictures for you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We're still working on that new video that just came in from around Basra. We'll bring that to you as soon as we can. We're talking about British forces. Britain has lost 23 servicemembers so far in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Yesterday some of their flag-draped coffins returned home.

COOPER: British troops returning home. We have just gotten this video in from a British pool video. This is apparently video of British troops trying to take out a TV antenna. Let's watch. The British heavy gun tried to get that television antenna. We're going to stay with this video as long as we have it. Obviously, we've learned in the past several hours or so, seven hours ago, British Royal Marine Commandos captured two high-ranking Iraqis. This according to a British spokesman. They have been pushing to a village southeast of Basra. I'm not sure that's where these pictures are fun, but they were pushing into this village apparently southeast of Basra just before dawn, which is about seven hours ago.

And we're not sure the level of resistance they have been meeting. This push into this town part of an operation they're calling Operation James, named after James Bond, ironically enough. Apparently they took out a number of tanks, as well as attempting to take out this TV antenna. Just one of the many targets they are trying to take out. All part of the British mission in Southeastern Iraq. Let's take a look at what's happening this hour.

KAGAN: We are looking at 1 p.m. in Kuwait City. Here are the headlines at this hour. Central Command says an Iraqi paramilitary training center in Baghdad was among the targets of overnight airstrikes. The coalition says it also aimed at surface-to-air missile sites, command and control facilities and an intelligence center that helped supress internal opposition. And exclusive residential area where some Iraqi officials live was also bombed.

The marines appeared to secure the southern bank of the Euphrates River in Nasiriya. Securing the area involves going house to house, searching for Iraqi fighters and weapons. Nasiriya is a key crossing point over the river as coalition forces move northwards towards Baghdad.

And the Pentagon reports a grim discovery in Nasiriya. An official in Washington says that U.S. troops who took over a hospital in the Southern Iraqi city found bloodied U.S. battle fatigues. The Pentagon believes the uniforms belong to U.S. soldiers who were ambushed a week ago today.

The U.S. soldier who is suspected of killing two of his fellow servicemembers in a Kuwait grenade attack is back in the U.S. No word, though, on where he is being held. Hasan Akbar returned to the States Friday after being held at a detention center in Germany. So far, he has not been charged.

We have an update on those two missing Newsday journalists. The editor of the New York newspaper says that he believes that they are detained by the Iraqi government. The photographer and reporter were reported missing early last week.

Iraq's Vice President rejects the re-authorization of the oil- for-food program. The UN approved the resumption of the program on Friday. It would allow Iraq to sell oil to pay for humanitarian aid. Iraq's V.P., though, says that amounts to stealing from Iraqi people and using their own money to feed them.

And just a slight break here from all the war coverage. A lighter story for you. Both Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus are expected to play at Augusta National in this year's Masters Tournament. For 73 year-old Palmer, it will be his 49th straight Masters. A new policy was to have gone into effect last year with a cutoff age of 65, but the Augusta chronicle reported yesterday that rule will be rescinded.

And now a look for you at some of the war coverage that you will see right here on CNN in the next hour. Stay with us for more live updates from the front lines. Our reporters will share what they have seen in the last few hours. We'll also check in again with our Tom Natier. He is at U.S. Central Command in Qatar with the latest from the leaders of the coalition forces. Plus, hometown support: We'll take you to one U.S. Army town, where you'll hear from the wives and the children of U.S. soldiers.

Hello, it is 1 a.m. in Baghdad, also here in Kuwait City, 5 a.m. on the East Coast of the U.S. I'm Daryn Kagan.

COOPER: Good morning, and from the global headquarters in Atlanta, I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for joining us on this Sunday, March 30th. You are looking at a live picture of Baghdad, about 1:02 p.m. There have been reports of explosions earlier. We don't see much smoke or anything right now on the horizon, but we will continue to monitor that picture, bring it to you when we think it's worthwhile.

Let's give you a briefing right now on early stories that we think will be news later on today:

President Bush returns to the White House today. He's been at Camp David for the weekend Presidential retreat. He led a videoconference with his war council there.

The next war briefing from U.S. Central Command in Doha, Qatar, as Daryn Kagan just mentioned, will take place this morning at 7 Eastern. Of course, CNN plans live coverage. And more war rallies are on tap. Today, rallies for and against military action in Iraq will take place this afternoon in Philadelphia. We'll be covering that as well.

First, let's go to the map to show you where coalition ground forces are inside Iraq to the best of our knowledge. Right now, as the blue arrows indicate, working their way towards Baghdad. But there is still fighting in places like Basra and Nasiriya. In Nasiriya, a lot of fighting in the last several days.

Meanwhile, in Northern Iraq, new coalition airstrikes in Mosul and other cities in that region. We are also getting reports they are coming in in drips and drabs over the last several hours of action going on outside of Basra. The latest figure I am seeing, a report by the German press agency that British forces have reportedly captured five senior Iraqi officer, possibly killed a Republican Guard Colonel, as well. This is a story we are following right now. Let's go back to Daryn in Kuwait City.

KAGAN: And Anderson, we want to bring our viewers pictures of what happened in Baghdad overnight, and information about what we've been able to gather about what exactly was targeted with some intense bombing overnight. As we go ahead and look at the pictures, we can tell you that coalition forces dropped satellite guided munitions on two surface-to-air complexes, that taking place in Baghdad on Saturday night. Those sites happened around 11:30 p.m. There was also anti- aircraft artillery tracer fire you might see in the sky there. They're also bombing the main training facility of the Iraqi paramilitary forces, that control those forces in Eastern Baghdad, and on Eastern Iraq. Military command and control facilities, one of those presidential palaces, and two facilities at the Karada Intelligence Complex. Also, you might have seen there's a large white building in that video, and that is the Ministry of Information building. Next to that are some apartment buildings where our Nick Robertson tells us that a lot of Iraqi officials live. That area, we believe, was targetted. We also understand that there are bunkers underneath those apartment buildings.

Right now for you, the most recent tally of casualties showing 59 members of coalition forces have been killed since the war started. Our figures show 36 U.S. servicemembers dead, 27 of them by hostile fire. The British have lost 23, at least 4, possibly 5, killed by the enemy. The Iraqi government has released no figures on military losses. Iraqi television reported that 357 Iraqi civilians have been killed.

And now, for an update from the Pentagon, we turn to our Kathleen Coke, who is working overnight for us today. Kathleen, hello.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello. Well, not to long ago there was a briefing by the Iraqi Information Minister in which a new claim came forward, and that was that Iraq had shot down a U.S. Apache helicopter. However, we have checked with the Pentagon, we checked with Central Command, and the U.S. reports that it has no missing helicopters at this point, no missing crew members, so shot down that report.

Also, Pentagon has no word on the identities yet of the four soldiers who were killed Saturday morning in that car bomb attack in Najaf. They are waiting to really notify the families, pay them due respect in that way before putting that information out to the media. So we're hoping to get that at some point, though.

The incident is really being expected to elevate the tension levels, the stress levels, at those numerous checkpoints in Iraq, where U.S. forces on a regular basis encounter vehicles, civilian vehicles. And where it's expected to make those interactions with the Iraqi population, Iraqi civilians, much much more difficult. In the Pentagon briefing, officials said, though, that U.S. forces would learn how to deal with this new and deadly attack strategy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAJOR GENERAL STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: It looks and feels like terrorism. And what it requires is units to conduct force protection activities, which they are prepared and do all the time. But clearly, when you see a tactic like this, it requires strict adherence or adjustments to your tactics, techniques and procedures to ensure that places like checkpoints are not vulnerable. So it won't change our overall rules of engagement. It doesn't effect the operation at large. But to protect our soldiers, it clearly requires great care.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KOCH: Iraq says, though, that this will be the first suicide bombing of many, and they are promising to pay any successful suicide bombers, pay their families some 35,000 dollars. Daryn?

KAGAN: Kathleen Koch at the Pentagon. Kathleen, thank you so much. Right now let's go back to Anderson for some breaking news. COOPER: That's right, Daryn, talking about suicide bombings, CNN has confirmed, according to Israeli police, there has been a suicide bombing in Netanya, Israel. At this point at least 10 people are believed to have been injured. Israeli police confirming there was a suicide bombing. At least ten people have been injured in Netanya, Israel. We're just getting this information, and it is a story we are following very closely in the next few minutes and hours.

Again, suicide bombing, Netanya, Israel, ten people injured, we're trying to get a live shot. As soon as we get it we will bring it to you. Moving on, every day of the war has seen several different kinds of developments. Our Miles O'Brien has this quick summary of the day's events.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 11:14 a.m.: Iraq's Vice President praises the suicide bomber who killed four servicemen from the Army's 3rd Infantry Division early Saturday in Najaf. Taha Ramadan vows there will be more attacks like that one.

1:13 p.m.: At the Pentagon, Major General Stanley McChrystal says the suicide bombing will not change U.S. tactics in the war. He says the attack looks and feels like terrorism.

3:30 p.m. Eastern, 11:30 p.m. in Iraq: CNN's Ben Wedeman reports the most intense bombing to date in Northern Iraq. Explosions rattle the front lines between Kurdish forces and the Iraqi military. This is the second straight night of airstrikes in the region.

4:46 p.m.: Three journalists missing for the last week turned up today in Kuwait. The men worked for an Arab sattelite network. The network says the trio went missing while embedded with the 101st Airborne Division, but gave no further details.

6:00 p.m. Eastern, 2:00 a.m. In Iraq: Explosions and tracer fire light up the Baghdad sky. Coalition bombs strike an area where CNN's Nick Robertson says many Iraqi government officials live. The area is usually off-limits to ordinary Iraqis. The U.S. says bombs also hit Republican Guard positions outside of Baghdad.

COOPER: As we just reported, there has been a suicide bombing in Netanya, Israel. We are expecting to have a correspondent up shortly to bring us up-to-date on the latest. According to Israeli police, as far as we know, ten people have been injured.

Iraq is warning there will be more suicide attacks against Americans in the warzone. Yesterday, four American soldiers were killed in a suicide carbombing in Najaf. They were manning a checkpoing when the carbomb exploded. Iraq's Vice President has this stern message for U.S. forces.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAHA YASSIN RAMADAN, IRAQI VICE PRESIDENT: This is only the beginning. You will hear more good news in the coming days. These bastards will be welcomed at the level and in the way they deserve.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: Strong words. Coalition forces are viewing the attack as a warning sign. CNN's Karl Penhaul is with some U.S. Army soldiers. He says at least one commander is urging his unit to be more cautious when interacting with Iraqi civilians. Karl Penhaul is actually joining us, he's on a beeper. Carl what's the latest where you are?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, indeed, soldiers of the helicopter attack regiment that I'm based with have been on the alert this morning. They've been up in the air with their Apache helicopters looking around the perimeter of this temporary airfield close to Al Najaf, the town where yesterday's carbombing took place.

True(ph), the Apache helicopters did stop a white SUV three male occupants inside, and so they moved in with a help of a handful of ground troops, they forced the occupants out of the Datsun SUV, and in fact, after checking out and searching the vehicle, they have taken the men in for further questioning with the aid of an interpreter. So a dramatic moment, I've been looking at the gun camera images, and it's quite obvious that after yesterday's carbombing just north of Al Najaf, the soldiers are in a heightened state of alert. They were watching every move of the three men that they arrested today, looking out for signs that they may suddenly detonate, or some kind of trigger within the vehicle, nothing so far has been found, but commanders here are telling me that they suspect that this three-man unit travelling in this pickup truck could have been some kind of advancement.

They have no firm evidence yet, they were dressed in civilian clothes, but they suspect it could have been some kind of an advance party checking out security around the perimeter of this base.

COOPER: Karl, how surprised are the Army forces you deal with, how surprised were they by this suicide bombing?

PENHAUL: I think overall they've been surprised by yesterday's suicide bombing, which as you say, claimed the lives of four U.S. servicemen, they've also been surprised by the type of guerrilla tactics, the small unit guerrilla tactics that the Iraqi forces now seem to be employing. It wasn't necessarilly the fight that they've been briefed about. Certainly, very different from the Desert Storm, the last time around. And they are facing up to the fact that they may need -- U.S. forces may need to modify some of their tactics to confront this small unit, guerrilla style threat.

COOPER: Alright, Karl, thank you very much. I appreciate you joining us. There is some breaking news that we want to breakaway from Karl for. Again, CNN is confirming, and this according to the Israeli police, that there has been a suicide bombing in Netanya, Israel. Apparently an independent square, at least ten people have been injured. We'll try to bring the pictures and report as soon as we can to you. For now we're going to go to Daryn Kagan in Kuwait. Daryn?

KAGAN: Alright Anderson. I want to check in now on U.S. Special Forces. They're now operating in Northern Iraq. Our Kevin Sites is in the town of Chamchammal. Kevin, hello.

KEVIN SITES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Daryn, I'm about 40 kilometers away from Kirkuk, and our photographer, Bill Skinner, and I have been here since the beginning of the war. We have not seen U.S. forces in and around the area until this morning, and we can confirm that they are meeting with Peshmerga soldiers here, possibly setting up a coalition ground advance towards Kirkuk. For operational security, we don't want to tell you the numbers right now, but we can confirm that they are working in this area.

Secondly, we observed B-52s flying overhead about a half an hour ago. The distinctive four vapor trails flying towards Kirkuk. They're said to be Iraqi legions around the city, it may be that they were hitting those particular enforcements there. We could hear a loud, thunderous explosion 40 kilometers away, all the way here in Chamchammal, and Daryn, earlier we talked to Stephen Priestly, he's with the Mine Advisory Group, that's a U.K.-based demining group, and they are here in Chamchammal, and they're working up the road to Kirkuk removing some of the mines. We wanted to talk to him again in this hit(ph). Stephen, tell me a little bit about your organization.

STEPHEN PRIESTLY, MINE ADVISORY GROUP: It was founded in 1989 in Afghanistan, and it really is aimed at providing a humanitarian mine clearance, this to civilians and other aid agencies that might need our help.

SITES: And you've been working here in Northern Iraq since 1992. You've cleared something like 120,000 mines and how much square footage has been reclaimed?

PRIESTLY: Just over six million square meters, to date.

SITES: Let's talk about the different types of mines there are and their destructive potential. What do we see here, the big mine?

PRIESTLY: OK, the larger mine is an anti-tank mine. It's Italian-made, it's designed -- it wouldn't blow up a tank and destroy it, it's designed to get what's called a mobility kill, so it'll blow a track off a tank and disable it. Unfortunately, if a civilian vehicle, like a bus or a Landcruiser went over it, it's probably going to kill everyone inside.

SITES: How about the smaller black mine?

PRIESTLY: That's an anti-personnel mine. It's quite large by the standards of anti-personnel mines. If someone steps on that, it only needs a few kilograms of pressure and the blast would typically take both legs...

KAGAN: I'm sorry Kevin we're going to have to jump in there with some breaking news. We'll get back to Kevin and that landmine operation. Breaking news out of Israel, and Anderson has more on that. Anderson?

COOPER: Thanks very much, CNN confirming there has been a suicide bombing in Netanya, ten people injured as far as we know. For the latest, we go to Jerrold Kessel in Jerusalem. Jerrold, what can you tell us?

JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, just about 20 minutes ago, in the Israeli coastal resort of Netanya, a powerful blast. And within the last few minutes, Israeli police and paramedics confirm that it was a case of a suicide bomber. Blew himself up inside a cafe in the bustling seaside town of Netanya, just about 1 o'clock in the afternoon, the lunchtime period. According to eyewitnesses, and quoted by the police, saying that the man walked into the "London Cafe" as it's called, and then there was a powerful blast. He was killed, the latest reports from the area, from paramedics and medical relief services were on the spot right away, and about 20 people have been wounded, five of whom are in serious condition. No reports of fatalities in this blast, and no claim of responsibility at this stage. Anderson?

COOPER: Jerrold, when as the last time there was a suicide bombing in Israel?

KESSEL: Yes there has been something of a respite for the last three weeks and more. And back on the 5th of March, in the other coastal town, the big port town of Haifa, when the Hamas claimed a bomb aboard a bus that killed 16 mainly young Israelis, and wounded dozens more. Since then, something of a respite, Israel has been maintaining its pressure on the Palestinian militants in both the West Bank and in Gaza, saying that it needs to cut down on Palestinian terror attempts at source.

There's also been a good deal of political movement on the Palestinian side of the newly-nominated Prime Minister, Abu Mazzan(ph) to try to get the militant groups to curb their terror attacks, but whether it's for that reason or for the Israeli military activity, there has been something of a respite in the spate of terror attacks. But this town that's been hit again today has been the target of very many terror attacks during the last 30 months of the Palestinian- Israeli warfare.

COOPER: Jerrold, so you're telling us this happened about 20 minutes ago, that would have put it just a little bit before noon Israel time. What kind of an area is it, you said it was in a cafe?

KESSEL: One o'clock, actually, one o'clock. Israel has moved on to summertime, and advanced their clocks by an hour. It's just before one o'clock in the afternoon.

COOPER: So would it have been a crowded cafe? What sort of an area was it in?

KESSEL: Yes, it was in the busy downtown area of this seaside town, which was a mix of an industrial, very much average town, also a seaside resort in past times, and very much a busy time and in the heart of the city, according to the reports we have, that the bomber went into a cafe, London Cafe, that's been the style of suicide bombers in the past, many Israeli, most in fact, restaurants and cafes have security guards on the door to try to stop people coming in, suspicious people, checking bags and so forth. We don't know of any specific arrangement at this particular cafe, but certainly it would have been a very busy time, and we understand many of the people who were wounded were outside, so it could have been from the force of the blast, it could have been he was pushed outside, the bomber. We don't know the exact details, but certainly a very busy period.

COOPER: And as far as you know you said at least 20 wounded, five of them believed to be serious.

KESSEL: Those are the immediate casualty figures that we have. There is a hospital, a smallish hospital fairly nearby, and the wounded were rushed to that hospital very, very quickly. This is a place, Israel has become accustomed to dealing with such terror attacks of this sort and very quickly on the scene, the paramedics and so forth. Israel, of course, has been on something of an alert also, not only because of the ongoing threat of Palestinian attacks in their cities, but because also of the possibility of the fallout of the war in Iraq. And Israel has been on a heightened state of alert on that level as well, but the medical facilities are perhaps unfortunately, but always on a high state of readiness and they were acting very, very quickly in removing the wounded to hospital.

COOPER: Alright, Jerrold, I know this happened some 20 minutes ago, we'll let you go and collect so more information and we'll check in with you shortly. Thanks very much. Jerrold Kessel, live in Jerusalem, reporting that at least 20 wounded, he believes five of them seriously. That's an early estimate from a suicide bombing in the seaside town of Netanya, Israel. A bombing believed to be inside a cafe. We're going to get a short break, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Some of the many images of this war. There will be a CENTCOM briefing in about an hour and 35 minutes. Seven a.m. Eastern Time in the United States. CNN is going to bring that to you live. For an update and a preview, let's go to CNN's Tom Mintier, who is live at CENTCOM headquarters in Doha, Qatar. Tom?

TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Anderson, it's going to be General Tommy Franks conducting the briefing, the CENTCOM Commander. The commander of the U.S.-led coalition that is inside Iraq right now. What we expect to hear from General Franks is an update on how the war is going. Away from the cameras we're hearing that the air campaign overnight was possibly the largest in the coalition-led campaign so far. I talked to one officer here at CENTCOM headquarters, and he told me that heavier bombers were being used against Republican Guard positions and against Baghdad. I asked him if these were B-52s and doing carpet-bombing, and he told me if I was on the ground looking up, that's probably how I would describe it.

Also indications that an Al Samoud missile launching platform was taken out by a Predator unmanned vehicle with the Hellfire missile. We may see video of that today. Also, British forces in the Basra area have commandos inside the city. They say they have killed a senior level, possibly a Colonel, an Iraqi commander, and they have taken at least five prisoners of war, including two that are very high ranking. So British commandos working in and around the Basra area. Also an update on the humanitarian situation there. They do say a waterline out of Kuwait has been completed and is now pumping water into the Basra area.

So we'll wait and see what we receive out of the briefing, but some early indications of what it might be. Anderson?

COOPER: It certainly seems like there is a lot going on at this moment. Tom Mintier, live in Doha, thanks. We're going to go to Daryn Kagan who is in Kuwait City. Daryn?

KAGAN: Alright, thank you Anderson, our Jason Bellini is with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. He is joining us now via videophone somewhere in Southern Iraq. Jason?

BELLINI: Hi, Daryn. The expectation, the hope of many of the Marines we're with here upon the start of this war is that they'd be welcomed by the Iraqis, that they wouldn't encounter too many problems along the way, that they would be seen as liberators. And, of course, things have not been panning out that way. Earlier today I spoke with Colonel Waldhauser(ph), he is the commander of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and here's how how put it. He said "We're having to react to what the enemy is doing." He describes weapon caches inside the cities that are becoming a serious concern that they're having to deal with, and as a result they're changing the way they're fighting this war.

Just the other day, Captain Dunne(ph), he's the commander of Golf Company, which we're embedded with, he spoke to his Marines and told them a little bit more about what's going on, what we're facing out there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAPTAIN DUNNE(ph), MARINE COMPANY COMMANDER: The point of going into here is to isolate these urban areas, move up, get outside of Baghdad, because we didn't want to get bogged down, we didn't want to slow things down allowing our forces to get north. We're up there where we want to be but we have some problems that we need to deal with. And what it comes down to, in my mind, at least, is we're through (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BELLINI: What that means for the Marines here at the grunt level is that they're going to have to make some very difficult, very quick decisions, especially when they're in environments where they're dealing with civilians, having to decipher between friend and foe, not an easy task, but it's the job that they're paid to do, that's what the Captain told them, and that's what they're about right now. Daryn?

KAGAN: Jason, thank you so much, I'd like to ask a bunch of questions but we do have breaking news out of Israel. Also, an important topic coming up: How to get the humanitarian aid to the right people inside Iraq. It is not an easy task. We'll address that just ahead, but right now, a quick break.

(COMMERICAL BREAK) COOPER: Just a quick update on some breaking news, we have been reporting in the last 15 minutes or so, there has been a suicide bombing in the seaside resort town of Netanya, Israel. According to our Jerrold Kessel, who reported from Jerusalem just a short time ago, 20 people are thus far known to have been wounded, five of them believed to be serious. The suicide bombing apparently took place inside a cafe in or around Independence Square. Again, we can confirm there has been a suicide bombing in Netanya. 20 wounded, five of those seriously. We are trying to get as much information as we can, also trying to get a report from the scene. As soon as we do we will bring that to you. For now, let's go back to Kuwait City and Daryn Kagan.

KAGAN: Anderson, one of the big challenges here has been getting aid to the Iraqi people. There have been a number of challenges and obstacles. For more on that we want to bring in our guest, Major General Albert Whitley, a British coalition commander. He is in charge of humanitarian aid, and he is joining us here in Kuwait City. General, hello, thanks for visiting with us.

ALBERT WHITLEY, BRITISH COALITION COMMANDER: Good afternoon.

KAGAN: Yes, can you tell us the latest, please on trying to get the aid not just into Iraq, which is one challenge into itself, but getting into the right people, the families, the women, the children that really need it inside Iraq.

WHITLEY: Yes, well at the moment, what we're doing is, if you like, what we call military aid. We're getting in aid to wherever we can do, wherever we judge that it's absolutely necessary to do so. At the same time, we're preparing the conditions so that the big players in this game, the United Nations, ICRC(ph), World Food Program and so on, can come in and do it both in quantity and substance to match much more precisely the needs of the people. Does that help paint the picture?

KAGAN: Yes it does, just a little bit, and we're dealing with a bit of a delay here, so if there's a pause I apologize for that, I don't mean to be rude about that. But I do want to ask you, within the last 24 hours, we've had this news of a suicide bomber taking the lives of these U.S. soldiers. Is that going to effect how those British and U.S. soldiers interact with the civilians in Iraq, and is that going to make it even more difficult to get the aid in the hands of the people who need it?

WHITLEY: I don't judge it so. Of course it's a tremendous personal tragedy for those involved and for the unit which those soldiers were with. But in military terms, at the moment it's not as significant as the Kamikaze pilots in the Second World War, and they didn't have that much effect in terms of the overall prosecution. In terms of dealing with the civilians, already in many areas of Iraq, you will find there are military check points out searching cars, detaining people who we believe this suspicious, and we believe that we're already putting into place, a security environment that will reduce that threat. KAGAN: General Whitley, I'm going to trust that the people at home, back in the states, are able to understand your answers. Well, I'm not given some technical problems we're having right here. So I'm going to have to go ahead and cut this interview short, but want to thank you and wish you well with your efforts in getting help to the Iraqi people. British Major General Albert Whitley. Thank you for joining us, sir. I really appreciate it. I apologize for the technical problems.

WHITLEY: Thank you.

KAGAN: We're going to take a quick break. We're going to straighten this all out. And we'll be back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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