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CNN INSIDE POLITICS

Iraqis Mistakenly Believe Soldiers Have Sights on Sacred Landmark

Aired April 3, 2003 - 16:00   ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've just heard a shot go off close to us.

ANNOUNCER: Confusion in Najaf. Iraqis mistakenly believe soldiers have their sights on a sacred landmark.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's no finer sight, no finer sight than to see 12,000 United States Marines and corpsmen, unless you happen to be a member of the Iraqi Republican Guard.

ANNOUNCER: The commander in chief meets the troops in North Carolina and remembers their comrades, those who have fallen and those still fighting in Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I want them to come home as soon as they can.

ANNOUNCER: CNN live this hour. Judy Woodruff reports from Washington. With correspondents from around the world, a special edition of INSIDE POLITICS, the war in Iraq, starts right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: President Bush says the vise is closing around Baghdad. The U.S. pushed closer to the center of Saddam Hussein's power. Reportedly is bolstering confidence within the Bush White House about the progress of the war.

Also on the home front ...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TOM DELAY (R-TX), MAJORITY LEADER: Frankly, what irritates me the most are the most are these blow-dried Napoleons that come on television and, in some cases, have their own agendas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: House majority leader Tom DeLay shares his views about the war and about critics of the battle plan.

Plus ...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If America is going to become an arrogant nation, do things only our way, this is a good way to begin. I believe it would be a tragic and a terrible mistake.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: If you think pouring you out French wine sent a dramatic message to Europe, wait until you hear what Congress is considering.

But, first, as always, we want to begin closer to the military action. Let's go back to Kuwait City and my colleague, Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Judy. With the power out now in Baghdad, we're getting word that loudspeakers have been blaring in the Iraqi capital, urging citizens to go to the international airport there, presumably to defend it against coalition forces. Now that armored columns of U.S.-led troops have reached the outskirts of Baghdad, eyewitnesses report fighting and shelling around Saddam Hussein International Airport.

In the final push to Baghdad, U.S. forces face limited resistance from Iraqi troops. But the Pentagon believes some Iraqi Republican Guard units have withdrawn to the capital for what could be their last stand.

Farther south in Basra, smoke rose over the city as coalition vehicles moved in today. British forces say they're consolidating their position in Basra's key suburbs.

And in northern Iraq, Kurdish political leaders and members of the Iraqi opposition are engaged in talks with U.S. military commanders. They reportedly are exploring the option of joining forces against Saddam Hussein. Coalition forces launched their latest advances toward Baghdad in the pre-dawn hours today, heading toward the Iraqi capital from the southeast and the southwest. The forces encountered limited resistance along the way and are now poised for the final assault not far from the edge of the city. Reporter Carl Dinnon of Britain's ITN filed this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CARL DINNON, ITN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Baghdad is now within striking distance as troops make their final thrust through the desert. Wrecked armor by the sides of the road suggests there has been some Iraqi opposition. But by and large, the Republican Guard has either been destroyed or has withdrawn. And the way seems to be open for coalition forces to close in on the city's southern limits. At daybreak, U.S. troops pushed through the outskirts of Karbala on the road to Baghdad, capturing a key bridge on the Euphrates River.

Meanwhile, coalition commanders posted American special forces were now operating at will. These dramatic pictures show a raid on a presidential palace less than 60 miles from Baghdad. It seems to have been abandoned, but the United States said it was still on the trail of Saddam and his closest circle.

BRIG. GEN. VINCENT BROOKS, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: We remain cautiously optimistic. We don't think that the fighting is over yet, and so there are still options available to the regime, including the use of weapons of mass destruction. We take that very seriously. We take it in a sober fashion. And at the same time, we remain prepared to continue operations.

DINNON: The Americans say they've destroyed two divisions of the elite Republican Guard.

(on camera): The Medina division, which is one of the toughest outfits in the Republican Guard is now down to 10 percent of its fighting strength. That means it's practically inoperative. Others are down to 50 percent, but there's still one or two divisions around 75, 80, 90 percent of their fighting strength, and they could still put up very stiff resistance, indeed, when the American forces get en masse to Baghdad itself.

(voice-over): The noose appears to be tightening on Saddam Hussein. The question is, how desperate he will get before he is finally toppled.

Carl Dinnon, ITV News, Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: In the southern city of Najaf, home to one of Islam's holiest sites, moments of tension that could have gone either way earlier today. Armed coalition soldiers moving toward a venerated mosque at the behest of a Muslim cleric. Angry locals who did not understand their intentions clearly showed their intentions as well. CNN's Ryan Chilcote is in Najaf. We're going to get to him shortly. But Judy Woodruff, back in Washington, has breaking news -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Wolf, we're going to break in here, because the parents of Jessica Lynch, who live in Palestine, West Virginia, are before the microphones, I'm told, just about to talk with reporters. They're walking toward the press. Let's listen.

GREG LYNCH SR., JESSICA LYNCH'S FATHER: Good afternoon. We appreciate y'all coming out for what you're doing for Jessie and all of the other troops that are missing. We've been waiting all day word from the doctors, and they have successively done one surgery on her. There will be other surgeries to do that. It's going to take time and patience.

DEE LYNCH, JESSICA'S MOTHER: But she's great and she's doing good.

G. LYNCH: She's in real good spirits. We talked to her.

D. LYNCH: We talked to her before the surgery, we talked to her after the surgery, and she's doing good. Can't you think?

G. LYNCH: Yes, a bunch, but my mind's blank. The doctor has completed one surgery on her back. They have released the pressure on a nerve, and realigned all the disks and put plates and stuff in it, and that was because she didn't have any feeling in her feet. So he, he's pretty sure right now that that will relieve, relieve the tension, and her feet will be able to move.

Also, we have heard and seen reports that she had multiple gunshot wounds, and knife stabbing. The doctor has not seen any of this. He looked for the gunshot wounds for the knife stabbing, and there is no injury whatsoever. They will do surgery again tomorrow on her legs. She has fractured legs and her right forearm. And we are just waiting to get that good news too.

D. LYNCH: We talked to her before and after the surgery, like I said, and she's just, she just sounded real good. Of course, this morning she was a little groggy. But yet, she was good, because it was early. And then this afternoon, after the surgery, she was our Jessie again.

QUESTION: If those weren't gunshot wounds to cause the broken bones, do they know what caused the fractures?

G. LYNCH: They have no idea at this time what caused them. We know she's in good spirits, because they told her they was gonna put pink casts on her legs and arms, and she had pink casts when she was in the third grade on her arm so we know she -- her mind is working good. So she's in good spirits, and we hope the surgery will go good tomorrow, just as well as it did today.

QUESTION: Can you tell us what she said to you on the telephone? You said she was in good spirits? Can you describe your conversation?

G. LYNCH: I teased her again about the Army jeeps and she said, "I know where there's a bunch of that we can find." So, we know she's in good spirits.

D. LYNCH: She was asking for a hairbrush.

WOODRUFF: Gregory Lynch, the father of Jessica Lynch, and Jessica's mother talking to reporters, saying they have talked to her today, both before and after surgery, that she says she's feeling good. They say she will be good. But they said the doctors did go in and apparently do some work on her spinal cord or spinal column. He said to relieve some pressure on a nerve. They were concerned because she didn't have feeling in her feet. They did go on to say the doctors could not find either bullet or knife entry wounds, suggesting that her broken bones came from some other source, and it is not clear yet. Her parents said they don't know yet what caused their daughter's injuries.

Back now to the battlefront and to the southern city of Najaf, home to one of Islam's holiest sites, moments of tension that could have gone either way today. Armed coalition soldiers moving toward a venerated mosque at the request of a Muslim cleric, but angry locals who didn't understand what they were trying to do. CNN's Ryan Chilcote is in Najaf with the 101st Airborne.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A tip leads the Bastogne Brigade's No Slack Batallion to this parking lot in Najaf where the Fedayeen are said to have stashed weapons. The search turns up nothing. The only resistance comes from a Volvo. The Shia population seems curious and friendly but they don't get too close. This man agrees to be interviewed as long as his face isn't shown. The Iraqi government, he says, has satellite TV. Anybody could be an informer and punish us for talking to you, even my family, he tells me in Arabic. The troops also keep their distance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's very uneasy out here. Don't know who's who.

CHILCOTE: Sergeant Rod Sutton from Indiana on the corner of a street leading to the highly sensitive Imam Ali Shrine, one of the holiest sites in the world for Shia Muslims.

Does it make you nervous that you're so close to the Ali mosque? Do you feel like you're tramping on.

SGT. ROD SUTTON, BASTOGNE BRIGADE: Holy ground?

CHILCOTE: Yes.

SUTTON: To some extent, I feel fortunate that I'm here, because this is something I never would have seen before. And now that I see it I kind of understand some of the history behind it. So, it makes me more appreciative of it. To the same extent, I don't want to be invasive with these people here. I don't want to trample on their holy ground, and I want to respect that as much as I can.

CHILCOTE: Word comes from the grand Ayatollah Sistani that he's willing to meet the American commander, but he asks first for soldiers to secure his compound, located halfway down the road to the mosque. No one explains that to the crowd.

(on camera): There is no more striking example of the sensitivities that the U.S. soldiers face here than what is taking place on the streets right up from the ah Ali mosque right now.

(voice-over): Chaos as the crowd apparently believes the soldiers want to approach the shrine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They want to get inside the holy shrine of Imam Ali.

CHILCOTE: Clerics appear with a message from the grand Ayatollah, but the message is did drowned out. The colonel instructs his men to stay calm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They got to understand, he wants us here. Smile, relax. CHILCOTE: His soldiers take a knee, their weapons brought down from the ready position. They do everything soldiers can to appear less hostile. But the potential for confrontation remains. The commander makes the decision.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Turn around, just turn around and go.

CHILCOTE: He orders his men back to their compound to await cooler heads.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: And CNN's Nic Robertson telling us earlier, significant that the Shia Muslim Ayatollahs, what they did, that they were cooperating with coalition and U.S. troops, saying that that will send an important signal to Shia Muslims throughout the country.

Well, U.S. officials are investigating two possible friendly fire incidents in which coalition forces may have mistakenly shot at allied aircraft. In one of the incidents, a soldier was killed and several others wounded. Before word of that death, 40 Americans had been killed by hostile fire in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Eleven of them by friendly fire or in other accidents.

Most of the 27 British troops killed have been victims of friendly fire or accidents. Meantime, Iraq says that 420 civilians, they say, have been killed during the war. And they say 4,000 injured. U.S. officials say more than 4,000 Iraqis have been captured. Seven Americans we know remain prisoners of war in Iraq. Fifteen others are said to be still missing in action.

Well, when they do finally enter Baghdad, U.S. and coalition troops could face urban combat with the Republican Guard, some of whom may have withdrawn into the city. But the U.S. military is expecting to remain focused on specific targets in the Iraqi capital. Nevertheless, CNN's Miles O'Brien is with our military analyst, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Leonard, he is a Persian Gulf War veteran and a military science professor at West Virginia University -- Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks very much, Judy. And Colonel Leonhard, we're going to talk a little bit about urban combat. And I wanted to just start this off by saying a lot of people when they hear about urban combat, they think of that Blackhawk down scenario, Mogadishu and the problems that can go wrong here. This is not probably a comparable situation, is it?

LT. COL. ROBERT LEONHARD, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Not in any way. And one of the reasons is because we have armored fighting vehicles there in Baghdad, and we will use them. Those tanks have 120-millimeter smoothbore gun on them. The Bradleys have 25-millimetre chain guns and coaxial machine guns. That's a lot of mobile protective gunfire. Completely different from the Mogadishu situation in which we did not have such vehicles. And we also are not going to use similar tactics there. We are much more likely to use patience and finesse rather than assault tactics.

O'BRIEN: All right. We want to show you an animation, and share with our viewers, maybe you can point out a few things about this. If we move in on Baghdad, and give you a sense of the kinds of targets that might be encountered in urban combat.

What we've depicted here is something here which shows some armor sort of off the wings here, right over here is a mosque. We depict that to show that's something you obviously want to stay clear as we just saw with the Ryan Chilcote piece from Najaf. As we get a little bit closer here, in a typical scenario like this, you might very well have Republican Guard snipers up on balconies like this, and possibly up on the roofs of buildings and anti-aircraft artillery or artillery encampments like that.

What we have presented her is an armored column with air support coming in. How much jeopardy is a column like this in as it goes through these concrete canyons in a city?

LEONHARD: It's a great question. I think the animation is good because it does show that you can hide literally anywhere in a city environment, and that is why movement through an urban area is very, very dangerous. It's the side that's moving that's going to take the casualties. That said, the armored fighting vehicles that you see there they look to me as if they're moving a little bit faster as than we probably will.

We'll use patience and finesse. We will take the time to locate the enemy, surround the blocks and the buildings that he is in. And then we'll probably surge fires into their both lethal and nonlethal to make his position untenable, to make him move rather than us moving through the assault zone. At which time we can engage them or arrest them.

O'BRIEN: We'd like to resume with that animation if we could. That's Saddam International Airport. That's another segment. Can we get back to the animation. And I'd like to just finish this out. Here we go. Ad we move it along, you'll see eventually the troops will come marching in. In this case, slightly off target here because you see them all going in the front door. Typically, when they'd assault a target like this, they'd do what?

LEONHARD: Well, typically, if they do go in, which is generally the option of last resort, but if we do have to go in, often we'll try to go in from the top of the building down. One of the reasons is because we use grenades a lot in clearing buildings, and grenades ten to offend downhill rather than uphill. So, you always want them going down staircases rather than having to try to throw them up the staircase.

O'BRIEN: Interesting, all right. Gravity rules, even in urban combat. Lieutenant Colonel Robert Leonard, we appreciate your insights in urban combat, something that is not something that the U.S. military would prefer to engage in, but it might become inevitable. Thank you very much for your time. We appreciate it -- Judy. WOODRUFF: Thank you, Miles and thank you Colonel Leonhard. All of that certainly helps us visualize what might happen.

President Bush vows a final push to victory and he mourns the loss of fallen Marines.

Up next, a report on the president's trip to Camp Lejeune, and a look at how the Camp Lejeune community is coping with the challenges of war.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: At Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, today, President Bush told an audience of Marines and their families, quote "A vise is closing around Baghdad," and the days are numbered for the regime of Saddam Hussein. Camp Lejeune has deployed more than 17,000 Marines to Iraq, and 11 from that base have been killed in the war so far. Mr. Bush said only one end to the war will be accepted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Having traveled hundreds of miles, we will now go the last 200 yards. The course is set. We're on the advance. Our destination is Baghdad and we will accept nothing less than complete and final victory.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Before leaving Camp Lejeune, Mr. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush met with some of the Marine families whose loved ones have died in the war. CNN's John Zarrella is with me now for more on how these family families and the community surrounding Camp Lejeune are handling all the pressures of war -- John.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Judy, while the White House handed out 19,000 tickets for the event. And it was not enough. There were lots of people, others who wanted to go who just couldn't go. This is clearly indicative of the strong support for the president here, both from the military community and the civilian community in the city of Jacksonville, North Carolina. Now, this is a very tightly connected community that rallies around the families of the soldiers in action.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZARRELLA (voice-over): Shannon Cloger (ph) sat in a pew with her 20-month-old son listening to the choir practice. For comfort, Shannon comes here to the Baptist church she attended as a child, and where she and husband Anthony were married six years ago. He is somewhere in Iraq now with the 101st Airborne.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's protecting my future, he's protecting my son's future. Everybody's, you know.

ZARRELLA (on camera): Is there anything you wanted to ask him?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just that if he sees this that I love him.

ZARRELLA: There are 65 members of the Brookwood Baptist church congregation serving in the Middle East. The church youth group has been writing them and others regularly since January.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we hope the country of Iraq ...

ZARRELLA: Thirteen-year-old Michael Swanton (ph) is writing to a man he knows pretty well, his dad. For Michael, it's hard to find the words to express his feelings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The feelings I have right now can be mixed. And sometimes, it feels like you could cry at once, be mad. You get a whole bunch of feelings.

ZARRELLA: Wherever you look in Jacksonville, North Carolina, there are yellow ribbons, flags, and banners.

JUDY PITCHFORD, EXEC. DIR., USO: Our care packages are going all the way to the frontline.

ZARRELLA: Judy Pitchford is the executive director of the U.S.O. She's seen the bond between the civilian community and the Camp Lejeune Marine base strengthened since the Gulf War a dozen years ago.

PITCHFORD: There wasn't that, we're here to support you, now you know. Everything came from the base. And now, that's totally different.

ZARRELLA: Walter Scott, wounded in Desert Storm, has noticed it too.

WALTER SCOTT, GULF WAR VETERAN: With war, you got tragedy, but you also got the love and the affirmation from everybody else in the country. And we're going to give our people the support that they -- you know, that they need, without question.

ZARRELLA: For the Marines in the Persian Gulf and those leaving now, knowing their families will be taken care of removes a burden they don't need to carry with them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZARRELLA: Now, the next big, big event that is going to be planned here in Jacksonville, North Carolina, says the USO and the community leaders here, will be a reunion and celebration when the Marines come home -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you John. You know, we saw that same reaction when we visited the Norfolk Naval Base not too long ago. The same notion of the community coming together to be more supportive of the troops after Desert Storm. And certainly, as this war approached. John Zarrella, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

Question, how to pay for the war in Iraq. And reaction to critics of the U.S. war plan. Just two of the topics covered in my conversation today with house majority leader Tom DeLay. He shares his views on these and other issues next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: As we've been reporting, U.S. forces are closing in on Baghdad. These live pictures of Baghdad at night. U.S. forces now close to the southern edge of the city. Witnesses report fighting and shelling at the Saddam International Airport, which is located about 12 miles south of the city. The airport was expected to be a key coalition target.

A little earlier today, I talked about the progress of the war with House majority leader Tom DeLay. I started by asking him to give me his sense of how the war's going.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DELAY: I'm pretty amazed at how great it's going. The progress that's been made is pretty overwhelming. The, you know, traveling hundreds of miles in a week, being able to really take over most of the country, I imagine now we control 90 percent of the country.

WOODRUFF: Events seem to be moving very quickly now. Based on what you know, could we be on the verge of a coalition victory right now.

DELAY: Victory has always been certain. When it comes, I don't know. The American people, I think, need to just be patient and let it work itself out. They're doing it in the best way they can to minimize the losses on our side. And, frankly, minimize the losses of civilians in Iraq.

WOODRUFF: As you know, there have been some officers on the ground in Iraq who have raised questions about whether the resilience of the Iraqis was perhaps underestimated, and whether there were enough troops going in. Is it -- are people who make those statements just making a big mistake?

DELAY: Well, frankly, I don't know why they're making the statements. If you look at the big picture you can see that we are accomplishing our plan. Frankly, what irritates me the most are these blow-dried Napoleons that come on television and, in some cases, have their own agendas. They're not involved in daily briefings. They're not involved in the Command Center. They're not on the ground.

WOODRUFF: Who are you referring to?

DELAY: Well, General Clark is one of them that is running for president, yet, he's paid to be an expert on your network. And he's questioning the plan and raising doubts as he becomes this expert. I think they would serve the nation better if they just comment on what they see and what they know, rather than putting their own agenda forward as an expert.

WOODRUFF: Is he the only one?

DELAY: No, there's others. The American people know it. I'm getting briefings every day, so I think I know what's going. And I don't need to get it from some expert on television.

WOODRUFF: Let me turn the corner a bit. While this war has been underway, the president, as you know, was handed a major defeat in his tax cut proposal in the Senate. The Senate voted to cut it in half to 350 some billion dollars. Do you think it's harder to get the White House's attention to fight these kind of domestic battles when you've got a war underway?

DELAY: Well, first of all, I wouldn't say it was a defeat. It was a setback, for sure.

The House has a very significant growth package number. We're going to stand by that number and we're going to fight for it when we get with the Senate to work out our differences.

WOODRUFF: But are you saying the president is going to get his $726 billion?

DELAY: Oh, I don't know about that exact number. Whatever we can get and pass in both houses that gives us the opportunity to write good policy is good enough for me.

WOODRUFF: One other thing, Mr. Leader, and that is this -- the question of how money for the war is authorized.

The White House has said this should be the administration that decides, for the most part, how the money is spent. Does Congress have a role in how that defense, that war money, is going to be spent?

DELAY: Congress has a definite role. We decide how much money is being spent and where it's being spent. The president obviously is listened to.

We gave him some flexibility, but we still held on to the strings of the purse, and that's our responsibility and we're carrying it out.

WOODRUFF: Mr. Majority Leader, Tom Delay, good to see you. Thanks very much for talking to us.

DELAY: Than you. Great to be with you, Judy. Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Appreciate it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: We are just after the bottom of the hour. Headlines at this hour right now.

(NEWSBREAK)

WOODRUFF: Well, we've shown you action in the south and the advance on Baghdad. When we come back, the dangerous road to Mosul, on the northern front, where it is reported there is heavy bombing underway now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: The man who steered the CIA under former President Bill Clinton says the United States has entered into a new World War and it's going to last a while.

James Woolsey told an audience of about 300 UCLA students yesterday that he considers the Cold War to be World War III, so he says this is number four.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES WOOLSEY, FMR. CIA DIRECTOR: This 4th World War, I think will last considerably longer than either World Wars I or II did for us, hopefully not the full 4-plus decades of the Cold War.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: Woolsey said that this new war is against three enemies: religious rulers of Iran, the so-called fascists of Iraq and Syria, and he added the Islamic extremists, such as al Qaeda.

Well, right now the Reuters news service is reporting heavy bombing in the northern Iraqi town of Mosul. That's -- those reports coming in just moments ago, with further proof that the fighting for coalition soldiers is hardly going to be a walk in the park.

Here's ITN's Julian Manyon with more from the north.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JULIAN MANYON, ITN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. jets are pounding Iraqi troops on the road to Mosul.

The Iraqis have been ordered to stand and fight after yesterday's retreat, but they are taking terrible punishment.

Earlier, we advanced on foot towards Mosul, which is part of Saddam's heartland. We followed a unit of Kurdish Peshmerga through miles of territory which the Iraqi army has abandoned. With us, half- a-dozen U.S. special forces soldiers who, for a time, were hopeful that the enemy had pulled out altogether.

(on camera): So, what's your procedure when you get up to a place like this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, usually we sneak up to it at dark, in the middle of the night, but seeing as how the Peshmerga pretty much secured the whole high ground here, we're just going to walk up...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've got a good fire going on...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they're moving...

MANYON: We just heard a shot over there.

(voice-over): The Iraqis were a few hundred yards ahead of us and they opened fire. Soldiers and journalists dive for cover and the Peshmerga rapidly began to fire back.

(on camera): The true situation here on the road to Mosul. Up until just a few minutes ago, we were walking calmly down the road with a few members of the U.S. special forces, then our position was fired upon.

Since then, both U.S. troops and Kurds have gone into action, as you can see behind me, taking over a former Iraqi army position and opening fire on what they believe are enemy positions further ahead.

(voice-over): Kurdish and American troops began to move forward towards the enemy. The Kurds fired rocket-propelled grenades towards their enemy. Iraqi troops fired back from behind a low hill and their mortar rounds began to land nearby.

We took cover.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roger grid 7 0.

MANYON: The Americans called in air strikes and the jets screamed in. But tonight the Iraqis are still holding out on the road to Mosul.

Julian Manyon, ITV News, on the northern front.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Very real taste of the battlefield.

As we watch the live night-scope pictures of Baghdad, where the electricity remains out for most if not all of that city, we know this war is not over yet. We don't know how much longer it will go on, but we can tell you that already there are arguments about who will run post-war Iraq.

State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel with more on that, after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: While Defense Department officials are primarily busy with the war itself, Secretary of State Colin Powell is focusing on post-war Iraq, trying to deal with growing demands by the NATO allies for the United Nations to run the country after Saddam Hussein is gone.

Our State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the war in Iraq enters its third week, retired General Colin Powell is fighting his own battle on two fronts: on the international stage and at home. On the one hand, facing demands from NATO allies that the United Nations, not the United States, must administer post-war Iraq.

DOMINIQUE DE VILLEPIN, FRENCH FOREIGN MIN.: We believe that the United Nations should have a central role in the reconstruction of Iraq, whether political, whether economical.

KOPPEL: But Powell countered a U.N. rule will not mean U.N. rule.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: I think the coalition has to play a leading role in determining the way forward. That's not to say that we have to shut others out, and not to say that we will not work in partnership with the international community and especially with the United Nations.

KOPPEL: Powell indicated the United States might support a limited U.N. role, such as a coordinator for Iraq, similar to the U.N.'s representative to Afghanistan, Lafdor Brahimi (ph). And possibly a U.N. sponsored conference in Baghdad to help select an interim government like the one convened in Bonn after the Taliban fell.

But the Bush administration is not of one mind. Powell has already crossed swords with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who wants the U.S. military to run the show and has designated a retired U.S. general to administer Iraq once the war is over and prepared Iraqi exiles, like Ahmed Shalibi (ph), to assume key roles in an interim Iraqi government.

POWELL: How an interim authority will be developed is a subject of discussion, and I got some good ideas here today, which I will be sharing with my colleagues when I got home.

KOPPEL (on camera): U.S. officials say Powell's strategy is to use what he heard in Brussels as ammunition back in Washington, arguing that any U.N. role in Iraq would provide much needed legitimacy and attract donors for reconstruction, whereas an Iraq run by the U.S. military risks deepening the rift between the U.S. and many of its closest allies.

Andrea Koppel, CNN, at the State Department.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: The diplomacy continues, even as the war rages on.

Now we turn to how the war is being covered by newspapers around the world.

CNN's Richard Quest has been keeping tabs on newspaper reports for us, from London.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All the world's newspapers pretty much agree that the war in Iraq is the top story. The differences is in the emphasis and the treatment.

Take, for example, "The Hindustan Times," from India. Although the war is number one on its Web edition version, it's the story and the picture that comes from the United States, where there's a U.S. helicopter going around the Statue of Liberty, focusing instead on the homeland security effort.

Back in Europe, it's the Battle for Baghdad that makes main news, although France's "Le Monde," Perhaps predictably, is concentrating on the civilian casualties.

(UNINTELLIGIBLE) from Germany, though, has a picture on its front page of the first U.S. military officer to be buried in the conflict, back home.

Finally, in Britain's "Guardian" newspaper there's a fascinating account of the differences between U.S. and British military officers. Obviously, seen from the British point of view, the paper says we like to think that we do things better. Our office is less bullish, more articulate than their U.S. pairs.

And in a conclusion about the British Military Training College, it says the men from Sunhurst (ph) are better educated and better at educating than the men from West Point. No comment.

Richard Quest, for INSIDE POLITICS, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Thank you, Richard.

And we are sure that the folks at West Point might disagree with that. We'll see.

Up next, a Democratic president hopeful meets with an Iraqi official. Find out who and why.

And Congress considers ways to pay back the allies who've been less than supportive about the war.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: As you look at these live pictures of the White House, here in Washington, we know the war on Iraq may be turning our attention away from politics for a while, but there's evidence that the issue is not being avoided out on the campaign trail.

Democratic president hopeful Al Sharpton met with the Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammad Al Douri, this morning in New York, to talk about the treatment of American prisoners of war.

And last night, in New Hampshire, Senator John Carey, another candidate, called for not only a regime change in Iraq, but also here in the United States. Carey told an audience that the United States needs a president who has visited, in his words, more than a sum total of two countries before taking office. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Majority Leader Tom Delay and the Republican National Committee have all come out critical of Carey's comments.

In contrast today, Senator John Edwards traveled onboard Air Force I with President Bush to visit with Marines at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

Senator Edwards and Senator Carey lead, we should tell you, in the early money chase. Each raised more than $7 million during the first three months of this year in their campaigns. Senator Joe Lieberman took in just over $3 million in the first quarter. Lieberman's fundraising operation got off to a slow start, they say, because the senator waited until Al Gore decided against running for president himself.

Today Senator Lieberman began a West Coast swing through California and Washington State, while Senators Edwards and Carey plan to visit Iowa this weekend for the first time since the war in Iraq began.

Now we turn to Capitol Hill where the war is very much a part of the congressional debate. Specifically, some lawmakers are looking to send an angry message to certain American allies overseas.

Here's our congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl. Hello -- Jon.

JONATHAN KARL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Judy.

Earlier this hour, the house rejected an attempt to strip $1 billion in aid to Turkey from the emergency wartime spending bill, but the money survived only after a day of very tough rhetoric on the floors of both the House and the Senate about allies that failed to support the war effort.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KARL (voice-over): Some in Congress say it is payback time against American allies that oppose the war against Iraq.

SEN. JOHN ENSIGN (R), NEVADA: I think that it would be absolutely wrong for American tax dollars to go to countries and to companies in those countries who have tried to turn the world against us.

REP. DUKE CUNNINGHAM (R), CALIFORNIA: There needs to me a message sent, and a penalty, Mr. Chairman.

KARL: Republican Duke Cunningham urged the House to deny the White House the $1 billion it has requested in aid for Turkey because it failed to allow U.S. troops to invade Iraq from Turkish territory.

CUNNINGHAM: I do not mean to demean Turkey by making this point, but merely to make a point. If my own daughters intentionally did something egregious, I'm surely, Mr. Chairman, not going to raise their allowance. I love them. I want their love in the future, and the same goes for Turkey.

KARL: The amendment faced strong opposition from the White House, which in a letter from Condoleezza Rice said the aid could play a significant role in bolstering the United States-Turkey partnership.

In the Senate, Republican John Ensign called France and Germany's behavior in opposing the war despicable and proposed banning German and French citizens and companies from receiving any money to rebuild post-war Iraq.

ENSIGN: The United States gives and gives and gives, and it's time for the United States to hold countries accountable that come against us.

KARL: That prompted a spirited response from several senators who warned against further straining the United States relationship with Germany and France.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: I believe we will drive deeper the scar tissue into the psyche of America with this amendment. I believe we will rent apart our alliances with this kind of amendment.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KARL: The White House agreed with that and a senior administration official called Senator Ensign, opposing his bill. Senator Ensign reluctantly withdrew his bill from the floor of the Senate.

But, Judy, later today, the House is expected to vote on a bill again denying reconstruction money to France, Germany and other allies on the Security Council that oppose the war. That measure is considered to have a very good chance of passing -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Jonathan, quickly, to another domestic spending issue, and that is spending for the airline industry, with the United States taking a hit right now during the war with Iraq.

The White House making it clear this week they don't want -- like the idea of a big bail out package, but on the Hill, a somewhat different story today.

KARL: Yes, the White House has made it very clear that they think that the $3 billion that both the House and the Senate are talking about giving the airline industry is simply too much.

But, Judy, what's fascinating here is nobody seems to care about the White House criticism. Republican leaders in the House and the Senate say they are marching forward with this full aid package.

And look what Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert had to say about this.

He said, it's a reporters quote, "The White House didn't come forward with a number. I'm not going to get in a fight with the White House. It's really up to the Congress."

Speaker Hastert and Leader Frist, over here in the Senate, are both saying that they expect the Congress to pass a full roughly $3 billion bail out or aid to the airline industry despite that very vocal opposition from the White House.

WOODRUFF: And with the president very much focused on the war, Jonathan, some Republicans are turning in other directions on issues like this. All right.

KARL: Absolutely.

WOODRUFF: Jonathan Karl, thanks very much.

Our live coverage of the "War in Iraq" continues.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: In war there are those who fight and those who keep them fighting.

CNN's Martin Savidge is with the 1st Battalion 7th Marines. He has shown us the heroes of the frontlines during this war. No less heroic are the marines on the field train.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's an old saying that goes troops fight battles, but logistics win wars.

Marine Lance Corporals Derek Leonard and Jonathan Hatton (ph) are warriors in both worlds.

LANCE CPL. DEREK LEONARD, 1ST BATTALION 7TH MARINES: This right here is the M-16, semiautomatic weapon, my preferred weapon. It's easy to carry around.

SAVIDGE: From their foxhole beside the road, they have enough firepower to stop a tank or put a big dent in any possible infantry attack. But security isn't their only job.

Derek fixes radios. Jonathan supplies the batteries that make them run.

(on camera): Do either one of you as you sit here ever wish you were up front with the rest of the battalion?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the time.

LEONARD: All the time. Every day. I'd much rather be up there. I mean, back here, yes, we're doing something, but I guess it would seem a lot more real if we were up there, actually in front.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Instead, Derek and Jonathan are at the back of the front, assigned to the 1st Battalion 7th Marines field train.

STAFF SGT. HIAWATHA CLARK, 1ST BATTALION 7TH MARINES: We provide the beans, the beds (ph) and the bullets. Which basically is, we provide them with chow, water, ammo and anything else they need to continue to fight.

SAVIDGE: The field train travels with the battalion, but remains in the rear, while the rest of the unit goes off to battle. But there could be no fight without the field train and the men who make it run.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They know their role is very vital, although some of them do get anxious, because they want to be up with the fight.

SAVIDGE: If not on guard, then the remainder of the Marines in the field train rest. They will work when those at the front return and sleep themselves.

For now, there is little to do but wait for the main body of the 7th Marines to come back from the field. When they do, the men of the field train will begin their daily miracles of repairing, refueling and replenishing, just as determined and just as vital to the outcome of this war as any Marine that goes before them.

Martin Savidge, CNN, with the 1st Battalion 7th Marines, in central Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: All the roles that are being played by these troops are important. We're going to tell you before we wrap up our coverage this hour, there are continuing reports of coalition forces moving on the International Airport. You see it there on the map, just outside of Baghdad. Reuters saying dozens of Iraqis, including civilians and soldiers, were killed in a barrage of U.S. artillery.

Our own Nic Robertson reporting that Iraqi government vehicles Thursday night, going to areas near the airport, telling people to gather there.

Much more ahead on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."

That wraps up our coverage for now. We'll see you tomorrow. I'm Judy Woodruff.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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