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CNN INSIDE POLITICS

War in Iraq

Aired April 6, 2003 - 16:00   ET

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

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Now that the battle for Baghdad is underway, officials here in Washington are stepping up the debate about rebuilding Iraq after Saddam Hussein. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz says it probably will take at least six months, maybe more, to set up a new Iraqi government once coalition forces take full control of the country.
Also on the home front, American's views about this war. Are protesters still a minority? And is the public buying Iraqi TV videos of Saddam? Plus ...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These are war criminals. And they will be treated like war criminals.

SADDAM HUSSEIN (through translator): God is great. God is great. And let the criminals lose.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WOODRUFF: The he said-he said war of words. There's no doubt spokesmen on both sides are working overtime.

Welcome to this hour of our ongoing coverage. For the very latest developments in the war theater, let's turn to my colleague Wolf Blitzer in Kuwait City -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Judy. U.S. Central Command now is confirming a first in this historic battle for Baghdad.

Two days after coalition forces took control of the city's international airport, a U.S. transport plane has now landed there. We are told the C-130 Hercules brought troops and equipment to the airport under cover of darkness. U.S. forces say they now have Baghdad surrounded, allowing them to control all the main highways in and out of the capital. American troops punched into the heart of the city for a second straight day. On the southern front, we have new pictures of Iraqis cheering on British troops as they rolled into Basra. After days of resistance from Iraqi fighters, coalition forces are moving to secure Iraq's second biggest city.

Two more U.S. transport planes are expected to land at the Baghdad Airport as American forces firm up their grip on that important gateway to the Iraqi capital. CNN's Walter Rodgers has more now on the coalition battle to free Baghdad. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALTER RODGERS, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We have just been told by U.S. Army officials here, 7th Cavalry, that the town of Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, is quote; "completely encircled." The United States Army and U.S. Marines control every highway into and out of the city now. And one senior officer said to us, if you want to stay alive, stay off those highways. Now, we were also told that earlier in the day, the Second Brigade of the Third Infantry Division conducted yet another foray into downtown Baghdad, into the city limits.

Again, this was essentially just muscle flexing to remind everyone that the United States Army can operate at will whenever it wishes in the Iraqi capital. That unit has since withdrawn. Meanwhile, the Seventh Calvary, which I am traveling with, has been under pretty consistent fire again today, especially last night. The Iraqis are using guerrilla tactics. These are Fedayeen troops. Some of Saddam Hussein's most fanatic fighters. What we have been told is that there has now been contact with the civilian population, Iraqi civilians, in the theater in which we are operating in southwestern Baghdad. And the Iraqi civilians are now saying that it is Saddam's Fedayeen troops who are taking refuge in schools during the day. Hiding in schools during the day knowing the American's will not strike a school.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Walter Rodgers, our man in the front lines covering this war for us. Thanks to Walter Rodgers. Judy, I will be back at the top of the hour for a full hour, actually two hours of WOLF BLITZER REPORTS. But for now I'll take a break and throw it back to you -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Wolf. A much deserved break, and we will be seeing you then at the top of that hour. Appreciate it, Wolf.

U.S. and British military officials are now confirming 109 coalition deaths in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Sixty-six Americans have been killed by hostile fire, it is now confirmed. Fourteen of them by friendly fire, or in accidents. Another seven British troops have died in combat and 19 have been killed by non-hostile fires. Three other British deaths are still under investigation. Now, for its part, Iraq is not releasing figures on military casualties. And it has not updated civilian deaths in quite a while. The U.S. Central Command says more than 6,000 Iraqis have been captured. Seven Americans still have believed to be prisoners-of-war in Iraq. Eight Americans listed at missing-in-action.

Well, there's a troubling new development along the northern front in the war with Iraq. An apparent friendly five air strike killed a group of Kurdish fighters. For the very latest from the northern front, we here at CNN's Jane Arraf joins us now from that part of the country. Hello, Jane.

JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Judy. The U.S. Military has now confirmed that it was indeed one of its planes that dropped a bomb on this convoy of Peshmerga, Kurdish fighters. Now Kurdish officials say that 18 people at least were killed and at least 45 injured, including a senior military commander, who happens to be a brother of the man that people here consider their president of the regional government. The son of that leader was also injured as well, although not as seriously. Among the dead were a local translator for the BBC as well.

Now, Kurdish officials say that that incident will not affect the relationship between them and the U.S., which they still consider as a liberation army, and they are working very closely with. The convoy had been heading towards the frontline, where a small group of Special Forces had been holding that line all day long, firing shots and dropping bombs on Iraqi tanks, which had come over the ridge earlier that morning before they had air cover.

Now, they fired 50-mm machine gun fire at them as well as mortars and dropped laser-guided bombs from F-14s that were circling the area. The spotters on the ground, those Special Forces, calling in the targets to let them know where to drop those bombs. By the end of the day, they were still holding the ridge still looking for Iraqi tanks and intending to move forward to move that front line forward -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Jane, what are they telling you there right now about the status of the Kurdish front line? Do they feel they are making significant canal progress against the Iraqis? What are they saying?

ARRAF: They are certainly making progress, but very slow progress. And that's completely intentional. They just do not have the forces here, the U.S. forces. What we are seeing all over that front line are the U.S. Special Forces taking the lead. Now, what are with doing are thing like what we saw in the video, which are calling in air strikes, bombing Iraqi defensive positions, basically keeping them back. Now the Iraqis in many places along that line have retreated, allowing the Peshmerga, the Kurdish forces, to move in. But there's by no means any large-scale assault on the part of U.S. forces here. And again, that's because they just don't have the numbers here after their planned northern front with ground troop from Turkey fell through. And also because they have an agreement with Turkey not to allow the Kurdish fighters to move quickly or by themselves into places like Kirkuk and Mosul. Something the Turks are very wary of -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Jane Arraf, reporting on the limited coalition present in northern Iraq. Talking about a very deliberate effort to hold the line, but not to try to do more than they can do at one time. Right now we will show you some live pictures from the USS Constellation. This of course, is one of the aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf. This -- throughout this war, we have seen coalition aircraft, U.S. aircraft taking off from the Constellation, coming back to the aircraft carrier. Carrying out mission after mission over Iraq. But this is a pretty dramatic scene. The aircraft lined up there on the deck of this carrier, outlined, bathed in a red light against the dark, dark night over the Persian Gulf. Again, these live pictures from the USS Constellation. Meantime in Baghdad, Iraqi officials continue to deny the latest advances that are being claimed by coalition forces. The U.S. troops say they nearly have the Iraqi capital city in a noose. For the very latest, let's go to CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson. He is just across the Iraqi border, right now in Jordan. Nic, last time we spoke with you, you were describing how the Iraqi military is holed up in hospitals, in mosques. What more do we know about the positions that they have taken up inside the city?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, just a few minutes ago, I was talking with a source in Baghdad, and he describes the situation there right now as relatively quiet. Only a few explosions. The lights off all over the city. It was a much different picture earlier in the day.

A lot more detonations, and from what we are being told and from what he could see, the detonations and explosions not so much on the periphery of the city and in government areas as they have been, but in different locations around the city. And also, he said he was hearing exchanges of machine gun fire. Both heavy machine gun and light machine gun fire. That's something different.

But from what is he seeing, and I'm hearing this from a number of people, Judy. A lot of surprise about the number of people on the streets of Baghdad carrying weapons, particularly in the western side of the city. Particularly in the areas that would be close to the southwestern area of the city. Quite close into the capital, but also out into -- quite close to the center but also towards the suburbs, close towards the international airport where coalition forces are. People that I'm talking to have seen Baghdad over a number of days and weeks, and they - and what I'm surprise by is the amount of surprise that they are showing about the numbers of people with weapons. Perhaps that cannot be overemphasized at this time. They are saying the Republican Guard fighters, the Fedayeen fighters, and the Ba'ath party loyalists, all of whom who have been harmed by the government.

They do say that perhaps the conscript part of Iraq's army has dispersed and left the front. What they are telling me are, there are a number of heavy artillery positions and tanks in the western part of the city. It looks like very much like a -- almost like a battle zone at the moment, they say. But what they are seeing is very many people with weapons, Kalashnikovs, and also rocket-propelled grenades. They say that the civilians in the city at this time are increasingly panic-stricken and concerned about the situation. They say that civilians believe they are caught up in the crossfire.

The civilians believe they are becoming unintentional targets, if you will, for both coalition forces and Iraq's military forces at this time. Many of them ending up in hospitals, or hospitals in Baghdad beginning very much to reach capacity in terms of the flow of civilian injured and other injured that are arriving in the hospitals there. This does fit in somewhat with a picture that is presented by the Iraqi leadership. Perhaps Iraq's troops in somewhat of a disarray. President Saddam Hussein made a statement on Iraqi television today, through television announcer, calling on those troops who got separated from their units to join up and form with other regular troop units.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): In the name of God, the most compassionate and most merciful, from Saddam Hussein to all of the fighters of the Iraqi armed forces, peace be upon you. When it has been hard or difficult for any member to join their own respective unit, they can join -- they can link up with any other unit and they will be counted as such until further notice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: Judy, perhaps the real point of note about all of these armed fighters who are now in the streets, particularly in western Baghdad. From what I'm being told, these fighters say they are committed to continue fighting with their Kalashnikovs and rocket- propelled grenades. And so far, from what my sources are telling me, this doesn't seem to be empty boasts. That these people are on the streets now. Whatever is left is representing Iraq's forces. These people that are left there, do, for now it appears, that they do intend to fight, Judy.

WOODRUFF: And Nic, do we understand you to say they are out in the open on the streets? They are not making any attempt to hide themselves?

ROBERTSON: There are numbers, we understand, that are hiding. It's not clear how many are in hiding and exactly the locations. They are hiding. And there is certainly evidence to show in other areas of Iraq that not only have schools and hospitals been used but also religious establishments, mosques. It's not clear to the sources I'm talking to though, where these units are actually hiding in the west of Baghdad. They don't know that. They believe the units are hiding, but they are just genuinely surprised at this stage to see so many fighters out on the streets with such a clear and stated intent at this time at least, to continue fighting.

WOODRUFF: And that does raise questions about just how much organization is behind all of this.

ROBERTSON: It does. And it -- I think the very fact that the Iraqi leaders had to make some sort of statement calling on units that have gotten dissociated or the units broken down to form up and join up other units at the front does indicate that the structure of the military is breaking down, and perhaps that is also a function of some of the regular units that we have heard leaving the frontline. It does seem to be sort of a combined force out there, it you will. These Ba'ath party volunteers, many of them we have seen on the streets before, often quite old, some very young.

The Fedayeen fighters, perhaps many in their 20s and early 30s, very committed from what we understand. And the Republican Guard fighters, the sort of perhaps more elite of the military, with the more than usual military training, if you will, and perhaps slightly more disciplined, often in uniform. But, again, there does seem to be an element that the command and control perhaps breaking down in as much as some people are losing touch with their original units. But it's the numbers on the streets that are impressing the people I talked to at the moment, Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Nic Robertson reporting from just across the Iraqi border. He is just inside Jordan, reporting on a mix of Iraqi military, Fedayeen, Ba'ath Party members, elite Republican Guard, and as he said, perhaps an indication that command and control disintegrating inside the Iraqi military.

Well, the U.S. military calls them pinpoint missions. This is the second day for them in Baghdad. And U.S. commanders say more are coming. Just ahead, our military analysts will explain. The first in scenes in the battle for Baghdad.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

WOODRUFF: You just heard Leon Harris reporting on British troops moving into Basra, Iraq's second largest city at the southern part of the country, moving in there earlier today. Well, CNN's Mike Boettcher has been moving throughout the country -- has been moving with special operations forces. We had him on the phone. We lost him. We are going to try to come back to him in a moment as soon as we can re-establish that connection.

Separately today, we know that U.S. infantrymen made forays into the city of Baghdad again this day. And their commander say they are planning more incursions into the Iraqi capital in the days ahead. CNN's Miles O'Brien is with our military analyst, Kelly McCann. Is he a former special operations officer himself -- Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks very much, Judy. The story of the day, those forays and also this attempt to encircle Baghdad, a sprawling city, five-six million people, 15 miles in diameter. It is a big place. You know, there probably aren't enough U.S. boots on the ground to do a complete encirclement. Kelly McCann, let's talk about this for just a moment. I want to, first of all, zoom in on the satellite imagery. Give people kind of the lay of the land. But as I'm doing that, what's the correct term? Encirclement? That sounds like they have the city surrounded.

KELLY MCCANN, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, strong point defense, of course, is the correct tactical term, because you're doing is you're being able to defend and hold in anyone who is trying to get out and of course, enable yourself to screen through the vehicles that might be suspect, that might be leaving. But if you look at the size of the land mass like you've got up here now. You can see how it's confusing how that's done.

O'BRIEN: And what I've done is I have overlaid a map on this satellite image just to give you sense of these choke points that we are talking about. This is obviously a key one here. This is a key one down here. So on and so forth. All these major intersections. It probably comes out to about, I don't know, it could be a dozen when you go all the way around city. That in and itself, it would seem, Kelly, would require a fair amount of manpower.

MCCANN: Well, there's no question, Miles. Remember the three dimensional nature of this battlefield. In other words, you've got security patrols that are operating well forward, that are out here in the region. And they are basically on a pattern that's determined by the tactical unit commander. You've got overhead imagery that is working around the clock. You've got remotely piloted vehicles that are there. You have got forward observer teams out in the region. You've got special operations teams out there, but if we take this example, this major artery intersection.

O'BRIEN: Well, that intersection, unfortunately, I'm going to have to do the telestrating here, Kelly. I apologize, but we put a squad on either side of that intersection, right?

MCCANN: Well, it would be more than a squad. We are well up from the tactical now and into the strategic, so we are talking platoon company, larger units that then intersect their vision, areas responsibility and intersect their, more importantly, fire control. So you've got points out there that have been preregistered that you can fire off a target list. You've got the patrols out there. You have got restricted fire areas where anyone operating out there who is a friendly can retreat to in the event that you have to fire on those targets. There's a lot going on with few people. It is a very efficient use of force -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: All right, now let's go over to the air airport in the center. We will look at this foray by the infantry yesterday. What you are looking at -- it amounted to about a 25-mile circuit of Baghdad. In the course of doing, that we are told -- I'll draw out that circuit for you here. We are told that as many as 2,000 to 3,000 Iraqi casualties. This is 25 miles all around here. What's the purpose of that, Kelly?

MCCANN: Well, there is a couple. One is reconnaissance by force. That's an offensive operation meant to go out and contact with the enemy. Find out where their weaknesses are, where their strengths are, et cetera. And then, at the tactical unit level, when you see men shooting into areas. That's reconnaissance by fire. That's meant to jump the enemy, if you will, and see if firing into their positions they will confirm their presents by moving or returning fire. So it's a hunter/killer mission on a larger sense. Don't forget too, Miles, it also off balances the enemy, because they never know quite where you're going to do this and it demonstrates a complete control of the area because it's literally at will. They are doing this at will.

O'BRIEN: But if the goal is to win the hearts and minds of the people, and we don't have much time left could this be a dangerous tactic.

MCCANN: Well of course, the battlefield is always dangerous. However, it is less dangerous, because unless absolutely necessary, you don't leave anybody behind. You go in, you make your circuit, you run your patrol, and then you retreat. And the reason you do that, is because you don't want to leave anyone behind where then the enemy forces could mass and then counter attack. Miles? O'BRIEN: Kelly McCann, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

MCCANN: Pleasure.

O'BRIEN: And now back to Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thanks, Miles. Of course Kelly describing what the Special Operations forces are able to do inside a city like Baghdad. CNN's Mike Boettcher has been moving with special operations forces in southern Iraq. Right now they are close to the city of Basra, which as we told you a short time ago. British troops moved into that city today. Mike, you are with us on telephone now?

MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I am, Judy. Well, the special operations forces basically lay the groundwork of what is happening now. The civil affairs units, the psy ops units and the Special Forces A-teams went out there and basically did their thing. The civil affairs units trying to win hearts and minds, psy ops, using their techniques to try to fool the Iraqis that the attack was coming on Basra and also get the message out to the people that the coalition was on their side. That is what the psy ops message was. And as well, special force units out there gathering intelligence.

And it is all culminated in tonight with British forces moving into Basra. They moved in from three directions. They are reporting sporadic resistance. One column had a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to move in earlier on, reported no resistance. Resistance basically consists of hit and run attacks. And when I was in Basra two days ago, inside the city limits with special forces, we found an arms cache of rocket propelled grenades on the street corner, and were told by the population that those sorts of caches exists all over the city. So the big challenge for the British tonight and tomorrow will be to find those and to find the Fedayeen who would use those.

But now the British are in Basra. They are able to move around. We don't know if they actually went to the direct center of the city. But we were told the main objective is to get to Ba'ath party headquarters -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Mike, we know there was significant resistance in Basra for many days. Now you're describing it as just sporadic. What's happened to the resistance and the people who were behind it? Where are they?

BOETTCHER: Well, the resistance came when there was a standoff. When the British and the rest of the coalition held off at the outskirts of Basra, allowing the Fedayeen inside Basra to launch occasional artillery. Very inaccurate, I must say, artillery barrages back at the coalition. But the resistance existed because there wasn't the pressure on then. Now the pressure is on them. The British are in the city. And they must go underground.

But -- for example, Judy, two days ago, when I was in with the Special Forces, and they were there to gather intelligence and speak to certain people, there was a mortar attack on our position. And the Fedayeen were in their black uniforms, that could be spotted in the distance, and then packed up their mortar and they went. And that is the kind of resistance they will see. There will be sporadic resistance probably for a few days, because it's a big city. And there are arms caches all over. And the Fedayeen and other Saddam Hussein supporters inside the city have nowhere else to run right now -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Mike Boettcher with the special operations unit serving, or rather working with British troops to take over, move into the town of Basra. As you just heard, resistance is sporadic. It's still there, but diminishing with the greater presence of coalition forces. Mike Boettcher, thank you very much. He is joining us on the telephone.

Well, for many suffering Iraqis, this war has simply added insult to injury. Coming up. What is being done and what still needs to be done on the humanitarian scene.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

WOODRUFF: Well, two wars are, I guess you could say under way in Iraq. One focused on toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein, the other, even perhaps a more challenging battle, is to relieve the suffering of the Iraqi people. ITN's Dan River takes you to the coastal city of Umm Qasr, where some say they are too thirsty to worry about who is in charge.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAN RIVERS, ITN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The children of Umm Qasr want only one thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Water, water, water.

RIVERS: We toured the town today, besieged everywhere we went by the same demand.

As the temperature touched 100 degrees Fahrenheit, water tankers from the nearby pipeline were mobbed by frantic townsfolk. But there simply aren't enough of these lorries to supply everyone.

Many have to use this well -- hard work in the baking sun, and the brackish water drawn up not fit for drinking.

There might not be a humanitarian crisis here in Umm Qasr, but there is, as you can see, a desperate shortage of water. And as the temperature gets hotter every day, that need becomes ever more pressing.

In the local hospital we found squalid conditions. Once again, the taps weren't working. Not a single drop in the entire building.

We found this patient, a young boy, with a badly broken arm, the X-ray showing a horrible fracture. When we'd arrived, there'd been no water to make the plaster cast. We gave them the small amount we had with us, allowing them to set his arm as best they could.

Despite the hardship, the hospitality of the local families was undiminished. Over tea, they told me they didn't care what was happening in Baghdad. All they worry about is food and water.

Since the war started, the men of the household no longer have jobs. They say war has brought nothing but hardship.

There's a chronic shortage here, particularly of water -- dire diet. I mean, there's enough food, but it's desperate. And people, you know, the questions of politics in Baghdad -- it's a long, long way from here to the capital.

The coalition forces have been here for a fortnight, and some aid is arriving. More is promised. But the need is huge. It's not regime change that people here are concerned about. It's food and water.

Dan Rivers, ITV News, Umm Qasr, southern Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: That was something, that young boy having his arm set and showing no pain whatsoever. Tough young man. For more details now on the humanitarian front in Iraq, we turn to Dr. Jim Tulloch. He is with the World Health Organization, and he is the U.S. health sector response coordinator for Iraq. He is with us in Kuwait City. Dr. Tulloch, first of all, picking up on that report about the water crisis. What do you know at this point about how much of Iraq, how many people of Iraq are truly suffering because of a lack of water?

DR. JIM TULLOCH, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: We don't have exact numbers of what proportion of the population are without water. We've all heard a lot about shortages of water in Basra, and it's reasonable to assume that in other cities too, where there's been damage due to the war, there has been damage to the water supply. Damage to electricity would also affect the water supply. So we can reasonably assume that there are many people living without adequate water at the moment.

WOODRUFF: And how long, if you can give us any sense, at best estimate, how long will it be before adequate water can be gotten to those people?

TULLOCH: Well, that depends how quickly the water supplies can be restored. Obviously, supplying water to a whole city or a large area of the city is a complex task. And this underlines how important it is for humanitarian assistance to be able to gain access to areas where people need services, not only water but also health services in general.

We are very concerned about the rising number of civilian casualties of the war, and there are several kinds. There are those, you've mentioned water, lack of water and poor water quality leads to outbreaks of disease, including diarrhial (ph) disease. We're concerned also about the direct casualties of war, that is to say those who are injured or killed as a result of the war.

And perhaps another category of casualties that people don't think so much about is simply the people who cannot get access to their normal health care. That may not be because the health facilities are damaged. It may be because health workers can't get there or they can't get -- the patients can't get there themselves. So we are very concerned about the current situation with rising civilian casualties.

WOODRUFF: Dr. Jim Tulloch is with the World Health Organization. What are you hearing -- you said a rising number of casualties as you describe it. What are you hearing?

TULLOCH: Well, we're hearing reports of civilian deaths in the hundreds, and civilian injuries in the thousands. I think the exact numbers, obviously, to get exact numbers under the current situation is very difficult. But in any case, the exact numbers don't really matter. There is for us no acceptable level of civilian casualties. These numbers, whatever they are, are made up of individuals, children who have third degree burns, children who have had to have their limbs amputated, will never walk again, pregnant women who are having miscarriages under the conditions of war.

These -- all of these numbers are individuals, in fact, who are suffering as a consequence. And we feel that it's extremely important to call on all parties involved in this war to do absolutely everything possible to minimize the civilian casualties.

WOODRUFF: And what do you need in the way of access to get to the people who need help, to get them that medical attention?

TULLOCH: Well, clearly any problems of access for humanitarian assistance are important. The Iraqi health professionals are doing a courageous and valiant job, from the information that we hear, to cope with the increased caseloads that they are facing of civilian casualties and other sorts of health consequences of the war.

Obviously, from our perspective, the sooner that we and our other partners in the United Nations system, Red Cross, NGO's all who work in the health sector are able to gain access to the civilian population, will work side by side with the Iraqi health professionals. The sooner we can do that, the happier we will be, of course.

WOODRUFF: I'm sure that is the case. Well, Dr. Jim Tulloch. He is with the World Health Organization, and is he a U.S. health sector response coordinator. Dr. Tulloch, thank you very much for talking with us this afternoon. We appreciate it. This evening your time.

More of our coverage on the war in Iraq when we return. Plus, with all the talk of what is going on in Iraq, our Bill Schneider takes a look at what hasn't happened so far in the war. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: As it turns out, reporters have been surprised by some of the things that have happened in this war, and by some of the things that haven't. Our political analyst Bill Schneider has more on some of the things that have not happened.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Immediately after being attacked, some feared the Iraqi regime might fire missiles at Israel, as it did in 1991, to try to draw Israel into the war. It didn't. "USA Today" cited military experts who said: "The Iraqi army could slow up a U.S. advance by blowing up bridges, using refugees to clog roads and flooding rivers to wash out roads." A dam near Karbola was wired but not demolished. And as for bridges.

BRIG. GEN. VINCE BROOKS, CENTCOM: The 5th Corps forces were able to seize the bridge intact over the Euphrates River. It was, in fact, rigged for demolition. They were able to remove the demolition, cross the bridge and continue the attack.

SCHNEIDER: In 1991, the Iraqis set the oil fields of Kuwait ablaze. There were a few fires early on, but nothing like the conflagrations of 1991.

Everyone expected Iraq to unleash chemical and biological weapons. So far it hasn't happened. What about Saddam's elite Republican Guard units that were supposed to form a ring of steel around Baghdad? The steel seemed to melt quickly under allied bombardment.

BROOKS: We have penetrated the defensive ring that was set by the Republican Guard forces

SCHNEIDER: What happened? The Iraqis may not want to use chemical and biological weapons even if they have them and hand the U.S. an immense propaganda victory. It could be there is no command and control structure, and Iraqi generals are fearful of taking provocative actions of their own, especially because President Bush has issued a serious warning.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you launch a weapon of mass destruction, you will be tried as a war criminal.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Maybe Saddam Hussein is not in control. And those who are looking ahead to after the war. They have to ask themselves, do they want to be put on trial, or do they want to have a future in the new Iraq? Judy.

WOODRUFF: Bill, I know there's a new CNN poll out today. How is public support holding up for this war?

SCHNEIDER: Well, it is holding up. And it's pretty remarkable. Support for the war has remained absolutely steady at 70 to 72 percent since the war began. No wavering. But here is something that has changed. Last week, 69 percent of Americans thought the U.S. was certain to win. That number has gone up 10 points in the past week. Now it's 79 percent. The public is increasingly confident of victory. In fact, most people who oppose the war now believe the U.S. is certain to win. But it hasn't diminished their opposition. Their opposition was never based on the view that the U.S. would lose. It was based on the view that the U.S. shouldn't do this.

WOODRUFF: And Bill, what about Saddam Hussein? What do people in the poll say they think about his status?

SCHNEIDER: Alive. Although they are not as convinced as they were at the beginning of the war. Just after that first strike which was aimed at Saddam Hussein, 90 percent of Americans thought he was still alive. Now 75 percent think he's alive. Those videotapes of Saddam walking through the streets of Baghdad may work with Iraqis but not with Americans. And even though we have not witnessed many scenes of jubilation, two-thirds of Americans believe that if the U.S. takes control of Baghdad, Iraqi civilians will welcome the troops as liberators rather than treat them as enemies invading their country -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Very interesting number that last one. All right, Bill Schneider, thanks very much, good to see you again.

Coming up next, the fallout from an apparent case of friendly fire. We'll have a report from northern Iraq when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: An apparent friendly fire incident in northern Iraq is taking more of a toll on Kurdish leaders than we knew at first. Eighteen people are now reported dead. And there are late reports that the 45 wounded include the brother and a son of a Kurdish political leader. Julian Manyon of ITN has more from Northern Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JULIAN MANYON, ITN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is another friendly fire disaster. This morning, an American bomb destroyed a convoy carrying high officials of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, which have been fighting alongside the Americans on the northern front. At least 17 Kurdish commanders and their guards were killed, along with an interpreter working for the BBC. More than 40 were injured. The military chief of the Kurdish KDP, the brother of their leader, Massud Barzani (ph), was gravely hurt.

(on camera): Trying to organize a northern front with just a few hundred U.S. Special Forces troops and the poorly armed Kurdish Peshmerga guerrillas was always going to be a high-risk exercise. The idea was to open the way with heavy sustained American bombing of Iraqi positions. But today, it all went disastrously wrong.

(voice-over): Even as we filmed the wreckage, U.S. jets were still dropping their bombs nearby. Giant explosions erupted down the road. Earlier, we had joined another convoy of U.S. Special Forces troops and Kurdish fighters as they tried to move south through country abandoned by the Iraqi army. At first, all was calm. American troops controlled the operation from a rooftop. Then, as the Kurds advanced again, the Iraqis opened up.

(on camera): Now we're hearing the boom of Iraqi guns as they fire towards our positions. All morning, the Kurds have been trying to advance, and that was the shell going off.

(voice-over): The Iraqi gunners rapidly found our range, and we took refuge in an abandoned farm house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get down. Get down!

MANYON: We finally managed to get out by car.

Here in the north, Iraqi tanks and guns are still firing, and the American effort is looking a little ragged.

Julian Manyon, ITV News, on the northern front.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: Julian Manyon with some very dramatic pictures as we look at the live pictures of Baghdad at night. We will take a short break, our live coverage continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: As we listen to these dramatic reports from the frontlines like the one just a moment ago from ITN's Julian Manyon, for those of us not in the military, it is hard to imagine what life at war is like. We gave a camera to a member of the 101st Airborne to see what it's like through the eyes of a soldier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Breaking out for a little while. We need to get as much rest as possible. So that when we go on our ops, which could be three or four days long being continuously, with no sleep at all, we can maintain and keep going. This is the least favorite job of the infantrymen. Digging a fighting position. You can see, differences in the -- you come over here to the side. And kneel down. You get on his level. You can barely see the private's head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are comic relief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's our comic relief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just waiting for some news. I imagine a lot more will be happening tomorrow. We are going across the border. Do anything or see anything out of the ordinary. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it's 2 in the morning. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go. Let's get it done. It's time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are 25 meters from the Iraqi border.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does it feel to be in Iraq? Are you ready? I'm ready. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This gives you a different view of how much we don't have. It's funny how quickly; you know this vehicle becomes your home. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) reminders of home. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Run away. Go bye-bye. Leave our trucks alone. The locals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ready to back up there. Don't hit anybody. Up behind. Come up behind him. Over here to the right. Pull in front of the truck. Pull in front of the truck. All right. There's our truck getting beaten to death. God dang it. Dashboard is gone. Everything. Tires popped. They tore this truck up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: we moved farther ahead. Then we were last night. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) so just advancing. See how far we can get today. The topography has changed a little bit. A little rockier, hillier.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I'm proud of what we are doing here. I want to say hi to all of my loved ones back home. Hi, mom, hi dad. Hope you are all doing good. Tell my brother and sister I said hi. Sorry I haven't called or wrote. But been busy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just known that we are safe out here and with a great group of guys. I feel confident about what we're doing. Don't forget we're here.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOODRUFF: One soldier's reporting before the going got a lot tougher. Well, as we look at these live night scope pictures of Baghdad, of the capital city and U.S. troops consolidate their control of troops going in and out of Baghdad. And as the first U.S. transport plane lands at Baghdad's International Airport. That wraps up this hour of coverage. I'm Judy Woodruff thank you for being with us. "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" is next after this quick break.

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