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U.S. Military Continues to Move About in Baghdad Suburbs

Aired April 9, 2003 - 01:00   ET


AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Here's the story line at a little past 1:00 in the morning Eastern time. Walt Rodgers reporting on where the Iraqi army, what's left of the Iraqi army, where they may be.
Walt, start us off.

WALTER RODGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Aaron. It is quiet in the city of Baghdad, according to what the U.S. Army is telling us now. We're in the southern suburbs of Baghdad. The lead of the story continues to be that a senior army officer has told CNN, and this is a quote, "That the majority of the Iraqi forces have now given up. By given up, we do not mean surrender. We're strongly suggesting, and every evidence suggests what they're doing is deserting, turning in their uniforms, running away."

More importantly, the U.S. control over Baghdad is going to tighten very considerably in the next 24 hours. There is the 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division, which has been occupying the Iraqi capital for several days now. The numbers of U.S. troops in the city will double in the next 24 hours. Again, the chord around Baghdad continues to tighten with U.S. Army soldiers and U.S. Marines pushing ever further into the city. And remember, there is a substantial contingent of U.S. troops already in the city.

There are confusing estimates about how many Fedayeen and Iraqi irregulars are still in the area of Baghdad. Some estimates are as high as 28,000. Other army sources suggest that may be an inflated figure. Many of those may have gone to ground. We cannot be exactly sure. But as I say, the situation in Baghdad this morning is quote, "very quiet." Expect pockets of resistance, sporadic resistance. Not all Iraqis are going to be giving up as easily or deserting. But, again, the situation continues to wind down, or at least that's the appearance at this hour on the military front -- Aaron.

BROWN: All right. I want to do two quick questions, Walt. Work with me here. You said control over Baghdad. Is that the same as controlling Baghdad or do you mean controlling the area around Baghdad, the city itself under the American's control?

RODGERS: I think what we have to say is just be very specific. There's a brigade inside the city now. That number of troops, U.S. troops is going to double within the next 24 hours. 101st Airborne is moving in this direction as well. They'll probably be here in another 24 hours. You're going to see a substantial U.S. occupation of the city. What's absolute control? I'm sure you're always going to be seeing for probably days and weeks ahead, you're probably always going to be seeing Iraqi irregulars coming out with rocket-propelled grenades, small arm's fire, and they will be shooting at U.S. troops. There is a danger for any U.S. soldier in that city. I'm not sure at this point, I would drive into that city unescorted -- Aaron.

BROWN: Okay, Walt, just stay with us.

Let's go to Iran, Jordan and Rym Brahimi has been talking to her sources in Baghdad, and can add to this notion of quiet this morning, unusual quiet in the city of Baghdad itself -- Rym.

RYM BRAHIMI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Aaron. I just spoke to sources in Baghdad. And I understand there is a total silence in the streets of the Iraqi capital. What I've been told is that for now these people I've been speaking to have seen no presence of any militias around Baghdad at all. They say it's all very, very quiet. In some areas, one area where the government has been storing some cars, well some people have actually been going to loot that. But in other areas, absolutely no presence of any authority, whatsoever.

What I was also told is there may have been a desire on the part of some groups of people in certain neighborhoods to come out and basically take back the city in the hands of the people, if you will. But people are still afraid, very much afraid, because they're not sure what this silence means. Whether it means all authority has gone, all authority from President Saddam Hussein's regime has totally gone or whether there may be some militias hiding somewhere, regrouping and then working on trying to come out at another moment or another point in time. So, again, Aaron, this total silence. No militias, and it's great contrast, of course, to all the battle and military activity there was yesterday -- Aaron.

BROWN: That's what strikes us in listening to this, is that literally 24 hours ago you and I were sitting where we are now talking about a very serious battle that was raging that took lots of lives. And 24 hours later, for reasons that we can't know, if you take a look at the city of Baghdad, you see none of that right now. That shot we've all become familiar with. And something has happened in the 24 hours that may or may not Rym, be benign. It's hard to know.

BRAHIMI: Absolutely. And I think one of the signs we might want to look out for is maybe in a couple of hours from now, two to three hours from now, if it's possible to find out from journalists at the Palestine Hotel what has happened to the officials from the Information Ministry that have been staying a the Palestine Hotel with them. Now, I'm hearing preliminary reports that many of those officials have left and, basically, totally disappeared. But, again, a lot of uncertainty over whether this is true. Whether it's just a temporary situation or whether it's a ploy. And as you mentioned, Aaron, a stark contrast with the day we described that it begun yesterday at the same time. It seemed like battles would go on for at least two or three days before any decisiveness would appear in the situation in Baghdad -- Aaron.

BROWN: All right, Rym, just stay with us.

Back to Walt for a second. Twenty-four hours ago, were you being told that Iraqi forces still had some ability to communicate, some sense of organization that now seems, according to Rym's reporting, and also based on what you're hearing, to be gone?

RODGERS: No, that's not correct, Aaron. Twenty-four hours ago, even 36 hours ago, I was reporting again from military sources that there was no organized resistance. That's not to say that there was not some intense firing by pockets of Fedayeen and perhaps Republican Guard remnants. But it was not organized. It was, if you will, small Iraqi units moving up, challenging the U.S. units, not coordinated in any sense of the word.

There is one point I'd like to add to what my colleague in Amman suggested. And that is the quiet in Amman is uncanny. That's true. And it may not last, not because of what we've been reporting, but perhaps because there's another element in the equation which needs to be injected. Yesterday, Iraqi citizens came up to the 7th Cavalry here in the southern suburbs of Baghdad. And they went up to the soldiers and said, can we get out our guns now? Can we start killing the Fedayeen? This, of course, is a very volatile situation. Iraqis killing Iraqis.

We've seen that on a smaller scale west of the airport when we were up there several days ago. And now the Iraqis that were meeting in the southern suburbs are saying can we go in and kill the Fedayeen? That is, those of Iraq's police and paramilitary units that had oppressed them -- Aaron.

BROWN: Walt, thank you. Rym, thank you. And, we'll continue on.

Just briefly, throw in one small piece of good news in all of this, or an additional piece of good news, if you will. Despite severe weather conditions, two critically wounded U.S. army special operations soldiers' lives were saved by a combat search and rescue team that evacuated them to a hospital from about five miles south of Baghdad. They have been now evacuated to a hospital. We'll take a look more at that dispatch at a moment.

One question that comes to mind. It's a rhetorical question, can't answer it is whether this calm that we see this morning in Baghdad is in any way, shape or form related to the attack on Monday afternoon, Baghdad time, on this restaurant that was believed to be a meeting place for Saddam Hussein, perhaps his sons, perhaps others in the Iraqi leadership. The British intelligence does not believe that Saddam was killed. They believe that he went in but left before the attack, but it is possible, certainly, or it might be possible at least that some of what we're seeing now is related to that.

Whether he is alive or not has been the subject of intense debate within the U.S. intelligence community today. That's the beat that CNN's David Ensor covers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A knowledgeable U.S. officials says, the intelligence that led to the strike came from an eyewitness who said he thought he saw Saddam Hussein, and possibly one or more of his two sons and other senior officials go into the building. The bombs hit just 45 minutes after U.S. intelligence gave military commanders that information. U.S. officials say they still do not know whether they skilled the Iraqi leader.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, I don't know whether he survived. The only thing I know is he's losing power.

ENSOR: Officials say it may be some time before the U.S. can be sure whether Saddam Hussein is alive. They are tracking Iraqi communications to see if anyone refers to his status. Meantime, U.S. officials say efforts to track down Saddam Hussein will continue.

KENNETH POLLACK, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: It's a very hard target. Saddam is paranoid. He is very good about his security. And my guess is that U.S. forces are trying to take advantage of every possible lead out there.

ENSOR: The Iraqi regime has an extensive network of deep underground hardened bunkers under Baghdad. Some of them were built in the '80s under contract by Swiss, German and Yugoslav engineers, and others more recently by Iraqis. U.S. officials say they're not sure whether the buildings they hit have bunkers under them, however, if it turns out there is a bunker underneath the site, experts say while the 2,000-pound bunker buster bombs are highly effective, the target information must be very precise.

(on camera): One expert said that if the bunker buster bomb misses the room where the targeted individuals are by about 15 feet then a one-foot thick reinforced concrete wall is all that's needed to protect them from anything worse than perhaps some damage to their hearing.

David Ensor, CNN Washington.


BROWN: Again, British intelligence suspects that Saddam Hussein probably survived this air strike. They're a little vague on why they believe this, the intelligence sources here. But they do believe he probably survived it. But, again, there is a calm now in the city of Baghdad.

When Colonel Paul Tibbets and his crew dropped the first bomb on Hiroshima, he had known about the cargo and the possible mission for 11 months. On Monday, when Lieutenant Colonel Fred Swan got the call it was just 12 minutes from call to execution.

Here's CNN's Barbara Starr.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The four-man crew of the B-1 bombers sent to kill Saddam Hussein and his sons was over western Iraq refueling when the word came.

LT. COL. FRED SWAN, WEAPONS OFFICER: When we got the word that it was a priority leadership target immediately, you kind of get an adrenaline Rush.

STARR: The crew fell back on their training. Lieutenant Colonel Fred Swan, the weapons officer on board, talked to reporters by telephone from the front.

SWAN: We had to react quickly to it. And at the time for me what I was thinking, well, this could be the big one. Let's make sure we get it right.

STARR: Twelve minutes later they are over Baghdad, beginning to understand this may not be a routine mission. There wasn't much time to plan after the intelligence community told the military there were top Iraqi leaders in a Baghdad residential district.

MAJ. GEN. STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL, PENTAGON JOINT CHIEFS: In this case, the 45-minute time between when we received potential intelligence and actually putting ordinance on the target is extraordinary.

STARR: And as the B-1 moved closer, the crew was watching for trouble.

SWAN: Moving towards Baghdad from the west to the east, things that came into my mind quickly were the air defenses around Baghdad which ...

STARR: The B-1 dropped four bombs in a special configuration designed to hit an underground facility and minimize damage in the surrounding civilian neighborhood. Two 2,000-pound bunker busters went first, followed by two, 2000-pound bombs with a time delay fuse, all designed to ensure maximum explosion underground.

SWAN: And everything went as advertised. The weapons came off. We knew we hit the target.

STARR: The pictures do now show considerable damage, of course.

(on camera): But even now the Pentagon says it doesn't know for sure if it got the people it was going after.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


BROWN: And all of this is interesting because there is this calm this morning in Baghdad. Quite a different place than it was 24 hours ago. Could it be related to that attack or not? The British officials say Saddam probably survived. But American officials have told Reuters they're discounting the British intelligence service report. So, we're probably no further down the road of knowing whether Saddam Hussein is alive or dead than we knew 24 hours ago.

We'll take a break. Talk with John Broder of the "New York Times." He is in Qatar. But the break comes first. Our coverage continues.


BROWN: John Broder is a correspondent with the "New York Times." He joins us from Qatar. John has written the lead piece in the "Times" today. And we've got him on the telephone tonight.

John, I'm not sure if you heard any of the reporting over the last few minutes. Let me give it to you in a nutshell. We're hearing from one correspondent that he's been told by an American military official that most of the remaining Iraqi army in Baghdad has given up, essentially, deserted. And independent of that, sources in Baghdad have told another of our correspondents that the city is unusually quiet. There's no military activity, no shooting going on at all. Is there anything you're hearing in Qatar from CENTCOM that can explain any of this?

JOHN BRODER, "NEW YORK TIMES": It is just a few hours after daybreak here and Central Command press operation is barely up and running. But it's actually a surprising development in part because much of the noise over the last few days in Baghdad has been made by our forces. And it's curious that they're not operating this morning. Perhaps both sides are taking stock of each other to see where we are going to go later today.

BROWN: So, as you sat down to write the day for the "Times," and you wrote the sort of overview piece. You saw the lead as what?

BRODER: Well, yesterday was a very eventful day in a number of respect. The United States forces continued their vice-like squeeze on the city from essentially all sides. The Marines took an important airfield in the southeast quadrant of the city, book ending the international airport on the southwest corner that the army now holds as an operating base, which they flew more than 10,000 forces in to. They can move about the city more or less at will, at least in armored vehicles. And they have taken two of the bridges over the Tigress River, and begun what appears to be the systematic demolition of the buildings that house the organs of state power there. And how long that will go on? I don't know. It depends on how long they meet resistance.

BROWN: Is there a sense that we are approaching the end game? Or well in to the end game?

BRODER: Well, it's not clear whether we're seeing the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning. And to some extent the Iraqis will decide that. They cannot mount any organized resistance as far as any of the U.S. commanders can tell. But they are capable of prolonging this conflict for a good, long while. There's a tremendous amount of small arms and grenades, rocket-propelled grenades still in Iraqi hands. That's one of the things that surprises U.S. field commanders whenever they take a school or a command post, the thousands and thousands of rounds of ammunition that they found. So, there appears to be little central control, but there are pockets of local control that could mount a fairly lengthy guerrilla-style campaign.

BROWN: John, just a final question while we have you. Is there much concern there that there might be some kind of Shia uprising in Baghdad that would create an almost unmanageable condition where civilians were concerned?

BRODER: Well, that is certainly a concern. In fact, it's not confined solely to the Shia population. This has been a pressure cooker, Iraq has been for three decades under Saddam Hussein's rule. There are three distinct ethnic groups -- the Shia, the Sunni and the Kurds, who all have age-old rivalries. And there's a lot of scores being settled. The British are reporting that one of the biggest problems they face down in the Basra area, some of these are long- standing political grudges. Some of them are just personal scores being settled under cover of chaos.

BROWN: John, thank you. Thanks for phoning in. John Broder, who is based in Qatar, wrote the lead piece in Wednesday's "New York times," the overview of the war today.

We'll take a break. When we come back, a conversation we had earlier with David Halberstam, but the break comes first.


BROWN: Always pleased when David Halberstam joins us. He's joined us on more than one occasion. Mr. Halberstam is a well- respected writer. And many years back in other wars, he was a legendary war correspondent. And he broke Vietnam and in the Congo, as I recall. David joins us from New York tonight.

It's nice to see you.

I don't want to spend all of our time, or even most of our time talking about the reporters here. But just a quick minute, is there something about this war in this situation that makes it particularly dangerous for journalists?

DAVID HALBERSTAM, AUTHOR: I think, one, the immediacy. The fact that the journalists are right up there. And so much of it I suppose is done by photographers that they have to be at the cutting edge. I mean, there's not much in the way of being back at the cable head, the way you were say in World War II or other wars. You do it by being there. The technology has made that possible. You can report from the very cutting edge. And it's always dangerous. I mean, this is a very ugly, mean war. The Americans have a lot of technology. And the Iraqis are on their home territory, and they're probably going to break into guerrilla units.

BROWN: Let's talk about the future here. One of the great questions in this is how will we know, as a country, that we have won the war? Do you see that answer in the next year, five years, the next generation, ever? HALBERSTAM: I'm afraid that I think that, I heard that today. Talking about when the we've won or when the war is won, and getting to Baghdad and even sort of seemingly pacifying, seemingly pacifying Baghdad may not end the war. What we may think is the 15th round of the 15-round fight may be round one in that region. And I want to specify region rather than just Iraq, because the impact of what we're doing is regional. The recruiting may happen elsewhere in other Arab- Islamic countries, not necessarily just in Iraq. The powerful impact of these images going through that region may have a slower fuse than we Americans tend to expect. We have become a supremely impatient country.

And we want it clean, over militarily done. I don't think it's going to work that way. I think, for instance, the most important technological advance, when we look back in 25 years from now, it may not just be the reporters up there at night with the night cameras on them, or the awesome new weaponry. It may be the fact that for the first time this war is going out live and in color in the Arab world with Arab networks, with Arab voices commenting on these images. That may be, in fact, the most important technological development since Gulf War I. And, therefore, the fuse may be a much slower burning fuse.

BROWN: David, hang with us for a second. Let me bring General Clark in on this, because I know he's chomping at the bit to get in on this. General, hello.

HALBERSTAM: Hello, general, how are you?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Hello, David. Good to see you tonight.

HALBERSTAM: I see that you have been embedded in CNN, Wesley.

CLARK: It's a great privilege to be able to compliment the troops and watch this operation unfold. But I share your concerns on the potential for expansion here. One of the reports that came out in the press today reported some 5,000 Syrians are now engaged in the fight, according to one of the Syrians that surrendered at the airport. And this may just be the tip of the iceberg. We don't know the durability of it.

But, clearly, the longer the fighting goes on the greater the potential to drawing others. And, Aaron, just one additional point that is sort of the flip side of what David is saying. If you look at our objectives in this, to unravel a chain of proliferation, it's going to lead to other nations in the region. And we're already telling them, as the secretary of defense, deputy secretary of defense have said, look at the lesson of Iraq. That lesson means it could happen there.

BROWN: David, let me give you the last word. Do you think Americans, by and large, are focused on this long view of what means peace, or have they focused to this point on the narrow view, let's take Baghdad, let's get rid of Saddam, whatever, however you frame it? HALBERSTAM: Well, think the administration has taken the latter. I think the American people are more uneasy. They are weary. I think when I go out and say, you know, I'm somewhat melancholy about this because the prism through which I see things is Vietnam. I have a feeling that we have punched our hand into the largest hornet's nest in the world and, therefore, the consequences in the region are likely to be very difficult in other countries. I have a feeling that people are ready to hear that. I think they support the troops and are very uneasy about anything that pulls us into a larger and, perhaps, escalating confrontation in a part of the world they don't know much about. But when they learn more, they are very uneasy with. They see lots of dangers there.

BROWN: David, as always, we look forward to seeing you back in New York soon, thank you.

HALBERSTAM: Nice to be here.

BROWN: Author and reporter, David Halberstam.

We'll take a break and updates today's headlines. Our coverage continues in just a moment.


KAGAN: I'm Daryn Kagan live from Kuwait City.

Let's take a look at what is happening this hour. We want to show you live pictures of Baghdad. That's where our Walter Rodgers reports a senior U.S. official says the majority of Iraqi forces there have given up. But sporadic fighting does continue. U.S. officials also say another army brigade is now moving into Baghdad to tighten the squeeze on Saddam's regime.

In southeast Baghdad, this was a very explosive scene. U.S. Marines using grenades to blow up a significant stash of Iraqi weapons near a military airfield.

Fifty miles south of Baghdad in the town of Hillah, the 101st Airborne division got caught up in an hour-long fire fight with Fedayeen fighters. Three U.S. soldiers were injured when an Iraqi paramilitary threw a grenade at them, but only one required treatment at a field hospital.

The British Military says it now controls about 80% of Basra; that's Iraq's second largest city. British military spokesmen say that there is no formal Iraqi army left in Basra, and only small pockets of resistance remain there.

U.S. Central Command says a pilot of an A-10 Warthog is in good condition after his plane was downed by an Iraqi missile. The pilot ejected before the plane went down near Baghdad's primary airport. Two other Warthogs hit by Iraqi missiles managed to land safely. Palestinian sources say that Israeli air strikes in Gaza killed six people, including three suspected members of Hamas. A Hamas leader was said to be among three people killed when an Israeli warplane attacked a car. Witnesses say an hour after the initial strike, helicopter gunships returned to hit the car once again. Hospital officials say three more people were killed and 20 were injured.

And now back to Aaron in Atlanta. Aaron?

BROWN: I am; and back to you in Kuwait. Let's take a quick look at your two morning papers and we'll take a look at some of ours as well.

KAGAN: Very good. Let's start with the "Arab Times." They continue to mix -we've got duty, despair, share, and Baghdad -- they're mixing their themes of what's happening militarily, but also with civilians in Iraq. Here you have U.S. soldiers crossing a bridge into Baghdad. But the inset picture is showing an Iraqi woman screaming when she arrived at a hospital in Baghdad with her wounded husband.

The other one, the "Kuwait Times" the headline here, "Deadly Day For Newsmen", of course talking about the three journalists who lost their lives yesterday in Baghdad. The picture here shows the battle at the Ministry for Planning.

But Aaron, if we could just pan down and take a look at the picture. Talk about a picture telling 1,000 words, down here -- the picture of a bloody camera. And this is from Baghdad. It is the camera of an injured photographer covered in blood of the 15th floor of Baghdad's Palestine Hotel. And that's from yesterday. And that's a look at the papers from here in Kuwait City.

BROWN: Thank you. Have a good night or good day over there in Kuwait.

Here's a quick look at some of the newspapers from around the country. We'll start with the "Albuquerque Journal" -- Albuquerque, New Mexico -- they've got a terrific picture on the front page -- a young soldier cheering the success of a mortar that his unit fired. "Counterattack Crushed" is the headline. But actually, well let me -- actually nothing yet.

The "New York Times" here, quickly -- "New York Times" -- "U.S. Tightens Grip, Rockets Rain on Baghdad" -- the entire front page of the "Times" is the war, but the "Times" is unusual in that respect today. As we looked at papers from around the country, we see more and more newspapers adding other stories -- local stories to their coverage.

The "Burlington Free Press", for example -- well, you can look at it as well as I -- the lead story, "Saddam's Fate Unknown". But up top there is a DWI -- a local story as well, and one other local story on the front page. That's becoming a little more common. Three weeks into the war now -- people going back to a variety of news -- newspaper editors, and probably you are, too, in many respects -not spending quite as much time.

The "Indianapolis Star": "Sky Over Baghdad Belongs to Allies"; but SARS is up top in the "Indianapolis Star" as well. And what is that -- the first suspected case of SARS in that city.

Now "The Guardian" is a point of view newspaper in Britain; and this is a column by Suzanne Goldenberg: "A picture of killing inflicted on sprawling city -- and it grew more unbearable minute by minute". "The Guardian" has written a lot about civilian casualties there, and they also, on their front page, note the British Intelligence report that Saddam probably survived the attack.

The "Chicago Sun-Times" headline: "Pilots Got Order -- This is the Big One", you just heard a bit ago, Barbara Starr reporting on this; and the weather tomorrow in Chicago right up there, go ahead and take a look, Chris, at the weather. "One thumb Up" is the weather forecast, and that's the same picture we saw in the Albuquerque paper as well.

"Baghdad Caught in Closing U.S. Vises" -- the headline in the "Detroit Free Press"; but also on the front page of the "Free Press", the story about Kmart and the problems there -- giving out bonuses while they're closing lots of stores; and there is also up, as you would expect in Detroit, a story about the auto industry on the front page.

So newspapers are a little less war dominated than they were even a couple of days ago.

We'll take a break. Our coverage continues in a moment.


BROWN: We realize not all of you are watching the news day and night and that you may miss some of the remarkable reporting from our reporters embedded with the troops. Here's a look at some of what they filed on another day for the troops -- the day that was filled with danger and duty.


RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Baghdad is not the only place where they're fighting in Iraq. Soldiers from the 101st Airborne's 3rd Brigade, also known as the Rakkasans, moving into the central Iraqi city of Hillah today -- Hillah well known for its role in ancient Babylon. It is the home of one of the Seven Wonders of the world -- the ruins of the hanging gardens of Babylon. It is also home, at least according to the U.S. military, to a lot of Fedayeen fighters, and they saw some evidence of that pretty immediately -- some fierce resistance coming from Fedayeen fighters, using both small arms and rocket propelled grenades; the fiercest resistance coming when the soldiers got to an agricultural complex. On their way in to the outskirts there, their convoy was attacked and there was some real close-range combat.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Marine unit that we're embedded with -- they came through a grove -- a huge grove -- almost a forest of palm trees, and there they came under attack and under fire. As they suppressed that and began to investigate, they found a huge stash of artillery pieces, anti-aircraft guns and other various forms of ammunition and hardware, and so the Marines quickly went about the job of destroying it. This is sort of demolition that is done on the fly here.

The Marines are obviously still trying to push forward for their objectives, so this is not something carefully planned and drawn out, as you might do with a specific demolition team. Instead, it is Marines going through the underbrush there, quickly locating the Iraqi artillery, and then using either hand grenades or incendiary grenades, lobbing them into place there and then running out of the way.

DAVID BOWDEN, POOL REPORTER: The coalition forces here say that pretty much they're in control and Basra is now locked down. The big problem, of course, is not from soldiers, but from the locals who tend to vent their anger on the old regime by going out -- they're looting, they're torching establishment buildings, and that has been a real problem for the local forces here -- the coalition forces -- to try to get a handle on. One of the Marines commanders here said to me; the problem is we're equipped for war fighting. We're not equipped to police the area, so we're hoping that they just get on with it -- after 24, 36 hours, they calm down.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think one thing that people don't realize about these airplanes is you fly by yourself in this small area. You're the navigator and the pilot, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, that's true. We're flying by ourselves, and I actually like it that way because it gives me the opportunity to be in control of the jet, not have somebody second guessing the things that I'm doing, and I like that aspect of flying this jet.

TUCHMAN: To actually drop the bomb or missile, what do you press?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First you'll select the master arm switch, like you said, and then you'll press what we call the pickle button, right here.

TUCHMAN: So that's the button you press to drop the munitions?


TUCHMAN: Do you ever feel any pressure when it comes to that point where you have to drop the bomber missile?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I would say I have definitely adrenaline pumping, definitely kind of like, you know, getting ready for athletic competition, you just have that anticipation of making sure that you've taken all the correct steps and you're dropping on the right coordinates, that you're dropping on the right thing.


BROWN: The day of war as covered by our embedded reporters. There was a difficult moment to say the very least at the Central Command briefing in Qatar today. The journalists gathered there; always asked questions about targets. But today an Arab journalist had reason to ask whether he and others like him suddenly felt like they themselves were the targets. Got a little testy -- here is some of the exchange.



QUESTION: ... from Al-Jazeera. Today your plane hit Al-Jazeera office in Baghdad. One of our colleagues was killed during the attack. The office of Abu Dhabi TV also hit, as well as the Palestine Hotel where most of journalists are staying. Do these attacks mean that you have intensified your military campaign against Baghdad and that you don't need the journalists to cover the bloodshed which would be taken in Baghdad? Thank you.

BROOKS: Well, if I may, let me begin by saying first that we regret the loss of life from the correspondents and we extend our condolences to the family of your journalist and to the families of other journalists who have lost their lives throughout this conflict. It is most unfortunate, indeed.

We certainly know that we don't target journalists. That's just not something we do. We also know that the locations where the regime does its work in many cases will put civilians at risk and we've talked about that day after day. The regime does not seem to want to change its methods of providing a higher degree of protection to journalists that, in many cases, we don't know where all journalists are on the battlefield.

We certainly know where the embedded journalists are at any given time, that are operating with our formations; and that was a conscious decision to take in embedded journalists.

There were some combat actions that also occurred that Palestine Hotel. Initial reports indicate that the coalition force operating near the hotel took fire from the lobby of the hotel and returned fire; and any loss of life -- civilian loss of life or unintended consequences -- again, we find most unfortunate and also undesirable. This is not something we seek to do. And at the same time we know that we're conducting combat operations inside of an urban area, an area where the regime has chosen to deliberately defend and not stand down. And we can only be reminded that the risk increases for the population as we do these operations, but we have to remain focused on our objective of removing this regime before there's greater loss of life.

Please, sir?

QUESTION: General, Jeff Mead (ph) from Sky News. If I can continue on the point you made there -- if you're claiming fire was coming from the lobby of the Palestine Hotel, why was this tank round directed at an upper floor? And what does that kind of marksmanship, or lack of it, suggest about the risks to civilians as your forces penetrate further into Baghdad? BROOKS: The responsive fire is something that we always have to get more details as time goes on, more specifically, where the fire was returned, and what was hit, and where the fire came from; so I may have misspoken on exactly where the fire came from.

What I can tell you as to the marksmanship, there have been plenty of examples of very accurate marksmanship, not only from air, but also from our systems on the ground as we've conducted operations over time.

We remain very confident in the capability of our crews, and our folks that are doing the work on the ground; and we believe that where it's possible to avoid losses of civilian life, every effort will be taken.

We've seen examples of trying to protect mosques where fire came, and we did not have to return fire at that point in time to protect ourselves, and therefore we did not. Circumstances change in different places and the tactical decisions that are made can only be made by people on the ground.

So I don't have anything else that I can give you in real detail on that, and I appreciate the question; but we'll remain focused on trying to do the job as well as we can without threatening the civilian population.

Yes, please?

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) follow up on the Palestine, one comment. First of all, journalists inside the hotel say that there was no firing coming from the hotel. And the second question is, did U.S. forces know that that was a media hotel?

BROOKS: What we know is that there are a number of places in downtown Baghdad where there are civilian populations who are at risk, and we know that there are practices by this regime to increase that risk deliberately, whether it's by positioning or whether it's by taking certain actions. And we know that as we conduct operations inside of Baghdad we should anticipate attacks from unexpected locations, that some of the military actions might be unconventional in nature, whether it's the use of car bombs or whether it's ambushes, the use of snipers, or certainly the consistent pattern we've seen elsewhere of using civilians as shields.

It's too early to be able to say exactly what happened at that site, and so I don't want to get into a "who says, what happened". We don't know enough to be able to say that definitively, and frankly, I don't know that anyone does to have the whole picture. That's why we have to investigate these type of things and find out what the bottom line is. And when we find out I think there will be more information for us to pass.


BROWN: General Vincent Brooks at the CENTCOM briefing today -- a lot of questions about what happened at the Palestine Hotel. It certainly was the major story that the Arab world saw today, and there wasn't much nuance in it, at least in the early reporting of it.

Baria Alamuddin is the foreign editor for "Al Hayat" -- it's an Arab language paper based in London and read around the world, and we're always glad to have her with us.

Let's talk about the journalists first, but not only the journalists. How is your paper playing the story?

BARIA ALAMUDDIN, FOREIGN EDITOR, "AL HAYAT": Well it's, I think, fair to say that everybody in the Arab world, including my paper and many other papers, and journalists are extremely angry and it's ironic that we are trying to see these forces as trying to put democracy and invent democracy in that part of the world while targeting the very soul of democracy with this journalism.

We are portraying this as a huge loss because any loss of life is huge, but let alone these journalists trying to do the work. There has been meetings in various indications around the Arab world with various ministers and I believe also worldwide to try to put to the American Administration the anger and the frustration we feel, and to indeed try and get these other colleagues of ours that are still in their offices -- the Abu Dhabi TV personnel, which is about 25 of them, and they're trying to get out of the line of fire.

BROWN: Look, this is as direct as I can make the question. Do you believe in your heart that this was a deliberate attempt to attack journalists?

ALAMUDDIN: I hope, from the bottom of my heart, that this is not, but evidence such as -- and from independent sources -- that yes, it was targeted. I haven't been there. Our people at the time were not in the hotel, but everybody is claiming and, indeed, people are saying for sure there was no fire coming out from that hotel.

And yes, it is known that this hotel -- this very hotel -- is a place where many, many journalists from all around the world are staying, and it is also known that that building houses the offices of Al-Jazeera and Abu Dhabi, so it's not a mystery; it cannot be a mistake, I think -- I don't know.

BROWN: All right. Let's set that aside for a minute and talk about a couple of other things.

There was a series of photos yesterday of Americans in some of the Saddam palaces and they were essentially having a good time. They were relaxed, they were smoking cigarettes. I'm fascinated to know how those pictures -- I know how they played in the States -- how would they have played across the Arab world?

ALAMUDDIN: With sadness, with anger, not with joy, Adam; because you see, the story is -- around the world -- is that these are invading forces -- they're not there to liberate.

And indeed, I heard some very, very disturbing reports today coming out of Basra and I heard Iraqi people talk, and indeed we've been told by our reporters inside Basra, for example, that already these forces are being seen not as liberators, although we've only seen four days into the liberation of Basra -- the so-called liberation.

In fact, people are saying, we want these people out. We want our own people governing our land. Of course there is delight that Saddam Hussein is no more there. It's obvious that these people don't want Saddam Hussein, but also they don't want to be governed by the Americans or the British, indeed.

These people have memories of when the British actually ruined Iraq. What they want, -- they are saying, and I heard this -- that they want schools, they want medicines; you know, they want the normal life that you and I would want.

BROWN: But do they expect that they will have that tomorrow or a week from Thursday? I mean, is there some understanding that this is going to take some time?

ALAMUDDIN: Yes, I think you and I will understand; but for those people who have been under the rule of Saddam Hussein for such a long time who have already suffered from sanctions, they are indeed impatient.

I don't know what is the exact plan for Basra at the moment, but I hope that because there was noting -- there was many scenes of disorder inside Basra, which were not pleasant to all these people. I believe they were probably scared that, you know, they will have, you know, maybe civil war, because you know the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) inside Basra; also so there are uncertainties that are making these people feel a lot unease.

People are eager to go back to normal life in every sense of the word, and I don't think we can blame them, Aaron.

BROWN: I've got half a minute. Do you find among moderate Arabs -- not radical Arabs, but moderate Arabs -- a sense of despair these days?

ALAMUDDIN: Yes, indeed. I think there are two, you know, factions in the Arab world today -- these people who are, you know, saying we want to go to extremism, we want to fight the Americans who are invaders; and there's also the other kind who are saying, no, this is a super power, let's make use of the knowledge, let's make use of the technology. We've always been friends with them. They've always been seen as our allies.

Let's build from now on, on good acts, good faith, and let's indeed enjoy democracy. Let's indeed enjoy the peace in the world. People are tired in that part of the world of wars. Let's indeed solve the Palestinian problem justly and let it be seen that it's not only, you know, let's not see the Americans as taking the full part of the Israelis -- let them be seen as fair people. We want to do business with them, we want to live with them. We know they are the super power. We know that we cannot defeat them so let's join them.

BROWN: Baria, it's good to talk to you again. ALAMUDDIN: Thank you.

BROWN: Baria Alamuddin of "Al Hayat," an Arab language paper published out of London. We'll take a break and we'll wrap up the hour when we come back.


BROWN: Well in the hour, with the latest in our series of still photographers.

Tonight we feature the work of Rob Curtis, who's shooting for "Army Times Publishing". Rob is with the 101st Airborne outside of Karbala, where the troops met stiff resistance -- a nicer way of saying they ran into some very nasty fighting.


ROB CURTIS, PHOTOGRAPHER, ARMY TIMES PUBLISHING COMPANY: My name's Rob Curtis. I'm a photographer with the Army Times Publishing Company, out here shooting pictures about the 101st 2nd Brigade's work here in Iraq.

The (UNINTELLIGIBLE) go all the way back to World War II and that just signifies how the unit in the 101st came in to police the area and really, you know, do the deep down scrubbing to clear it and make sure it was safe.

Soon after we were there they found Baath Party headquarters. You know, everywhere we went you saw these pictures of Saddam Hussein. On the walls there were little messages written, that Saddam is always thinking of you.

Outside Baath Party headquarters there was a huge picture of Saddam Hussein and with great pride one of the captains from the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) walked up with a can of spray paint and wrote a big (UNINTELLIGIBLE) sign over his face, you know, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) sign.

The 101st Airborne (UNINTELLIGIBLE) they are air assault, which means they attack from the helicopters. They'll load up in a helicopter in the morning. They get out and they just march to the objective.

Saturday was a big day here for the guys I was with. It started out as an air assault from a city down south, and they got to Karbala and hiked across the desert in about 100 degree heat heading into the city, and ran into some pretty stiff resistance.

Let me tell you that urban fighting for these guys is their bread and butter, and that's the only reason they're really here, is to search and clear buildings block by block, and it's real heavy lifting for these guys. They have to physically, I mean, they take four-man teams into every single room, and they cleared, you know, maybe 4,000 rooms since they have been here as a battalion.

The American helicopters were shooting rockets and machine guns at the Iraqi Divisions. At one point when we came around the corner -- we saw a trickle of civilians coming around the corner -- then (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I think by the time they had all passed us there must have been, you know, 100, maybe as many as 300 just (UNINTELLIGIBLE) away from the fighting -- you know, the soldiers were really concerned with getting these people out of the city as best as they could safely and you know, not shooting anybody by accident.

These guys are wonderful soldiers. They're all volunteer force, and they're built like bricks. A lot of them just keep going -- throw anything at them -- I really couldn't speak more highly of the people I'm with. They're taking care of me, and all I can do is do my best to show what it is that they're going through.


BROWN: Rob Curtis of the "Army Times".

We'll leave you this hour with pictures of Baghdad -- a sense that something is in the air. Our reporters say it's unusually quiet in Baghdad -- certainly different than it was 24 hours ago. What that means -- the day will unfold. Our coverage will continue with CNN International, and we'll see you again tomorrow.


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