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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Pentagon: Aerial Bombardment of Baghdad to Continue

Aired April 6, 2003 - 00:24   ET

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

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to check in now with Kathleen Koch. Kathleen joins us from the Pentagon.
What's the latest you have, Kathleen?

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, bold strategies by the Pentagon as the U.S. military continues to tighten the vise around Baghdad. First, from the air, the dramatic aerial bombings of the Iraqi capital. Those like we have seen again today, in central Baghdad, those will continue.

The general in charge of the coalition's air force in Iraq says that in addition a new strategy will be in place, at least two war planes will be in the air over the capital 24/7. That to provide what's called urban close air support for forces on the ground.

And those forces will increasingly, just as we saw on Saturday, and perhaps again today, begin moving into the city on these pinpoint mission. Not only are these columns of tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles on the lookout for things like key intelligence about Iraqi troops and weapons, perhaps positioned throughout the city.

But CENTCOM says that the bold daylight forays are also meant to send a message.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAJ. GEN. VICTOR RENUART, JR., U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: In terms of day or night, I think that it was very clear to the people of Baghdad that coalition forces were in the city. That image is important and so I think being in the daytime it was a very clear -- it was a very clear statement to the Iraqi regime as well, that we can move at times and places of our choosing, even into their capital city.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KOCH: Military leaders say that those probing forays will continue in the days to come. Also, we'll be seeing more coalition control of the roadways into and around Baghdad, especially major intersections. The U.S. military has taken control of a major highway intersection in the south of the city, all part of the plan to very carefully control access. Essentially allowing refugees, if they so choose, to flow out of Baghdad, allowing humanitarian supplies to flow in and completely cutting off the flow of any supplies or reinforcements to whatever is left of the Iraqi Republican Guard. The hope obviously being that by isolating regime supporters depriving them of anything they need to continue fighting and restricting them to the shrinking sectors of the city that they will eventually have not choice but surrender. And that, of course, Anderson, would spare U.S. troops from facing what they really don't want to get into and that is the bloody prospect of urban combat in the streets of Baghdad.

COOPER: All right, Kathleen Koch at the Pentagon, thanks very much. We'll check in with you later.

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