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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Abandoned Iraqi Military Base Now Ghost Town

Aired April 2, 2003 - 03:38   ET

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

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq have forced some Iraqi troops to pull back from their fixed positions, and what was once a bustling military base is now actually a ghost town.
Our Kevin Sites takes us on a tour.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEVIN SITES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Only a week ago, Iraqi soldiers lived and worked at this base just 23 kilometers from Kirkuk. Now, it's a ghost town after coalition airstrikes drove them away.

Peshmerga fighters have scoured the place, but Abdul Rahman (ph) says they haven't found any useful military intelligence. What was left behind provides a fascinating snapshot of a unit operating on the threshold between the dangerous and the absurd.

Inside crumbling concrete buildings, we find dark and dank conditions, rooms filled with the detritus of lives-in-waiting, rotten food and moldy uniforms, shaving kits and cigarettes.

In here, there's a painting of an Iraqi eagle with silhouettes of tanks and helicopters, softened slightly by a border of snoopy wallpaper.

This building was home to a tank company. These hand-made charts, a training aid for Iraqi gunners. With items like this gave them a broader tactical view.

(on camera): What we're looking at is a 3-D map of the area. This is Chamchamal, and these are the Iraqi defensive positions overlooking Chamchamal in these hilltops until coalition airstrikes forced them back down this road towards Kirkuk. This is Karahandruk (ph), the actual abandoned military base where we're at right now.

Inside every structure, a microcosm of what daily life must have been like for each Iraqi soldier. This is an officer's quarters, a helmet on the floor, a steel-frame bed, even a pair of boots ready to pull on in a moment's notice.

(voice-over): The Iraqis probably didn't have that much notice before airstrikes forced them to head west towards Kirkuk, a city which is now a main target of more coalition bombing.

Kevin Sites, CNN, near the city of Kirkuk.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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