CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Aired April 10, 2003 - 07:04 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: The CENTCOM briefing has begun. Here's Brigadier -- well, you will see General Brooks there.
MAJ. GEN. VICTOR RENUART, DIR. OF OPERATIONS, CENTCOM: Good afternoon, everybody. I'm General Gene Renuart, director of operations for United States Central Command.
I want to spend a little bit of time with you today summarizing some of the activities that we've seen over the last day or two. General Brooks will follow with some specifics on some of the key aspects of the campaign that we feel like are important to make you are of.
Our message has been consistent. Some you say, "You stand up here and tell us every day you're on plan." I think that's a good thing, and we are on plan.
We continue to conduct our operations throughout the country. We continue to reduce pockets of resistance, especially in the southern areas, where we see a growing air of security among the cities from Basra, continuing on up until -- up to Baghdad.
We've seen a lot of activity in Baghdad over the past 48 hours. Those operations continue. I'll talk a little bit about those a little later in the briefing.
But it's important to note that despite what you see in terms of localized euphoria in places in some of the cities, that this operation is a long way from complete. We have localized pockets throughout the area of the greater Baghdad area that we have to deal with, and we have a number of areas throughout the country that are not yet stabilized, that are not yet engaged in terms of reducing or eliminating the Iraqi military, the paramilitary forces, the Baath Party and some of the leadership.
So there's a long way to go still. We'll continue on our path, continue on our track, and we will in the end reach all our objectives.
As we said over time, really each time we've been up here, none of that comes for free. The men and women of our coalition are bearing a heavy cost, and we always take a moment to remember those military personnel, their families, and also the members of the civilian population and sort of what I'll say third parties, members of the media, members of the IOs and NGOs that have been caught in some of the firing around the country. The war brings with it a cost that affects us all. Just to give you a summary of operations that have been ongoing, the outer cordon in the vicinity of Baghdad really is complete.
RENUART: Elements of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and 3rd U.S. Division have completed the cordon around and we believe we've cut the major routes in and out of the city, eliminating the opportunity for large forces to move in and reinforce, and certainly complicating the problem of anyone trying to leave the city.
In the south, the 1st U.K. Armored Division is conducting a number of operations in the Basra area and continuing to move to the north to link up with elements of the 1st Marine Division in the vicinity of al-Amarah. We have now secured all of the southern oil fields.
We're in the process of moving through those oil fields to ensure they are secure and I'm pleased to say that about 800 of the 1,000 well heads have physically been inspected and the repair requirements have been determined for many of those. That work continues and we think we'll have those inspections completed over the next few days.
In each area where we go, the population seems supportive and continues to welcome our coalition forces.
An interesting sidelight in Basra. I mentioned the U.K. has been actively engaged there. It's doing a superb job. They report that some of the senior clerics are now coming out into the city asking for two things: One, for our help to pronounce looting to be illegal, and to ask us to help with reinforcing their curfew within the city so that we don't have large groups of folks roaming around at hours that could get them in trouble. The clerics have also asked for their local citizenry to turn in weapons.
So those are very positive things, and while they are things we enjoy success with and we are pleased with, the best story is it's coming from the leadership of the communities themselves.
RENUART: In the center part of the country, the 101st Airborne Division conducted operations near the town of al-Hilla. They returned stability to that area, found four warehouses of food that were held by the regime. We're now turning that around and distributing it to the local population.
Throughout the southern region of the country the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force has been actively engaged providing humanitarian assistance and civil military support. General Brooks will talk to that here in just a minute with a number of anecdotal pieces that will demonstrate a real success story and something we're really pleased with.
In Baghdad, I mentioned operations are ongoing. They are active in terms of combat operations. We've had a number of localized pockets of resistance and some combat operations that are more substantial through the city as we engage targets of regime leadership and paramilitary forces. At the same time, and we've talked before about those two pillars of this campaign -- at the same time we're conducting assessments of the utility systems in the city, the sanitation capability, the hospitals, to see if we can very rapidly infuse water, electricity, sanitation into those areas and to those facilities so that we can return quality care to the people of Baghdad.
One note, out in the west, another good news story, in the town of al-Rutba, our special forces had a meeting with the leaders in the community. That town has, in fact, declared itself open to coalition forces. We've met with the new mayor and his town council. They've asked for our help in returning power to the community and working the flow of water. We've assisted them by providing power generation equipment to get the wells running, and then we have a repair team going in to help with some of the power generation capability for the city. So a lot of real success stories there.
RENUART: There's been some questions about media access for the people of Iraq, and we have been working very hard over the last week to get a media broadcast capability to bring into Baghdad. We hope we'll have that in very soon. And we're working very aggressively to find the contacts within the city and in the country who would like to begin an Iraqi broadcast network, if you will, and over the coming days and weeks we hope to allow the free Iraqis to begin to broadcast their own TV/radio throughout the country.
In the meantime, our information operations continue with things like tune in to our information radio and TV to ensure that they understand that Baghdad is still not a safe city and that they should try to remain in their homes, not be out in the streets, and certainly not be anywhere where former regime officials might be.
I think the final point I'll make before I turn it over to General Brooks is that, as we have been aggressively planning military operations for a military victory, we've also been equally involved planning for the peace that follows. We're not sure when a military victory will be complete. As I said, there's still work to do. But we want to ensure that in parallel we are planning for the follow-on operations to ensure stability, to bring the infrastructure of the country back up to pace. So we're reviewing railroads, road infrastructure, bridgework, power, lights, water -- all of those things in the major metropolitan areas around the country -- so that we can begin to infuse elements to repair and restore each of those capabilities just as rapidly as we can.
With that, I'll turn it over to General Brooks and let him walk you through a couple of the key activities over the last few days.
BRIG. GEN. VINCENT BROOKS, CENTCOM SPOKESMAN: Thanks, General.
Ladies and gentlemen, as General Renuart said, our operations do continue and so do our efforts to transition the liberated areas into the future of Iraq.
BROOKS: Our coalition Special Operations Forces will be where I begin today. We have succeeded in maintaining a lethal pressure against Iraqi forces in northern Iraq, and consolidated some gains in the area of Mosul -- I talked about that yesterday -- up in this area, where Iraqi forces have been pushed back from what was the Green Line. And under coalition Special Operations Force lead, supported by some peshmerga, they've moved into that area and begun to consolidate around the area. It's not yet secure. There's still work to be done.
In the west, Special Operations continued against regime forces in the town of al Qaim, and this is an area that is strategically located on the route that joins Syria and Iraq, and it also is an area that is potentially for use for the launching of ballistic missiles.
General Renuart talked what happened in al-Rutba. That is a very good news story, indeed. That was a scene of fighting early in the war, and at this point, now, Special Operations Forces having joined with the citizens of al-Rutba, being welcomed in a friendly way, are able to get on the work that's necessary to carry on to the future together.
Now, finally, our Special Operations forces in this case also conducted operations near Haditha Dam. This is an area we've spoken about before. Haditha, located here to the northwest of Baghdad, is a very important dam that we have been able to secure for a period of time, and it also serves as an important crossing point over top of the Euphrates River.
Two days ago, our Special Operations Forces there were reinforced by coalition armor and infantry after a move-in by air into an airfield that is controlled by Special Operations Forces, and then that was followed by a link-up. I've got a short video that shows you a part of that operation.
These are tanks arriving by C-17 aircraft. The Haditha Dam area and tanks rolling across the dam. This is really a very good example of the flexibility of the forces that are involved in this operation, and it shows that an even greater set of options now exist to defeat the remnants of the regime.
Our Special Operations Forces now control five different airfields, and those are shown by the airplane symbols on this map. Coalition maneuver operations focus in areas of Karbala -- let's go to the next map please -- Karbala, al-Hilla and also Baghdad. And I'll talk about some of the work in each one of those areas.
First, as General Renuart had mentioned, in Karbala we continue our efforts to increase the security in the area, eliminating any remaining pockets of regime forces, clearing out buildings that have been used by them for other purposes and just increasing the security in that very important city.
In al-Hilla, coalition forces of 5th Cord attacked during the night to eliminate remaining pockets of regime forces. There were some still present. Our coalition forces encountered some rocket- propelled grenade ambushes on the approach into town, and also found artillery and defense systems, But they were successful in causing the resistance to collapse.
After consolidating, the force found significant amounts of weapons and equipment, and also liberated that warehouse. We believe the warehouse contained foodstuffs and fuel that was associated with the oil-for-food program. It was a very large distribution center, it appeared to be, and of course these will be distributed to the population.
BROOKS: If we can go to the Baghdad map please.
I just want to highlight a few more things about our work in and around Baghdad. The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force increased its presence. They entered from the southeast and also proceeded to the northeast yesterday. There have been pockets of intense resistance in the center of the city, and also near the Imam Al-Adham mosque, which is located in this area, and that's where the fighting occurred this morning. At this point the fighting has ended. We know that the mosque was used, and the area around it, for fighting positions for that intense fight that occurred this morning, and the assessments of the fight are ongoing.
Fifth Corps Forces also increased their presence in several areas west of the Tigris River to further eliminate any pockets of resistance. There was one example of a fight that occurred last night where some regime forces attempted to cross the Tigris River in boats, and they were driven back.
Our coalition forces continue to interact with the population, and that helps us to gain additional information. You've seen some of the scenes of interaction on the streets.
The white circles, just like yesterday, show generalized areas where we've been conducting operations over the last 24 hours. Of course, still near Baghdad International Airport and Rasheed Airport, but it's a much larger area now where we've conducted operations west of the river. We've tightened into this area, and also from the northeast toward the center of town in this area. Operations continue.
Of course, there have been reports of ambushes in a number of locations, reinforced in many cases with surface-laid mines that have been hastily emplaced by regime forces that are still out there. And this, importantly, demonstrates the continuing hazard to not only coalition forces, but an even greater hazard to noncombatants that are moving through the area in vehicles.
We do continue our efforts in communicating with the Iraqi population, as well as military forces, delivering leaflets by hand and by air, and our broadcasts over the airwaves. At this point, we've distributed more than 1 million leaflets yesterday alone and have reached more than 43 million leaflets overall, and our broadcast messages are adjusting to account for the changes in circumstance as we find them. The good news is we're quickly moving beyond the one- way communications of broadcasts and interacting directly with the population every day. Finally, in the area of humanitarian assistance and efforts, something that becomes increasingly important with each day that passes, we find that the initial needs that our forces encounter are in the areas of food, water and medical. And while there has not been a crisis in food availability, our coalition forces are able to provide some supplements to the existing food stocks.
What I have here is an image of daily rations. These were distributed by hand, and we've shown images like that before. What I want to highlight here is two different types of humanitarian daily rations. We've had questions about that before. You see the yellow ones that have been seen in other operations. And, again, we are distributing these by hand, not airdropping them. But the new type is a different color, to make it very clear that it's not anything close to any munitions that might be hazardous. They're salmon color. There's additional shot here in this case.
BROOKS: These were distributed by the 82nd Airborne Division near al-Samala on the 5th of April.
We are also expanding our ability to provide medical care on a variety of levels. The arrival of the Spanish ship Galicia yesterday in Umm Qasr brought humanitarian supplies and also a medical bay with over 50 beds and an off-ship field hospital that can be pushed out in the area surrounding that.
What we have is a video that was taken during the off-loading of ship.
This is a very important coalition contribution to the medical condition and the effort will be provided for the Iraqi population. That's not military-medical support that this effort will provide. But that's not the only medical effort. There's also immediate medical attention that occurs in communities every day. This image shows a Navy corpsman near Numaniyah assessing immediate medical needs in the community. And a similar image -- whenever possible we can provide treatment for the immediate needs of the population.
Clean drinking water continues to be a daily challenge for communities that are without electrical power, but the coalition is taking several steps to try to meet the immediate needs for water. First, water is trucked into communities and then transferred into distribution bags like the ones shown in this image. In some cases, the coalition dedicates its own water purification equipment to meet community needs.
What you see in this image are three water bags near al-Samala that were filled with water, taken from the Euphrates River, and purified through military water purification equipment. And those can generate up to 2,000 liters of water an hour.
Eventually, we believe that our efforts will make the existing water purification resources, the ones that are part of the Iraqi infrastructure, functional and operational again like this in Ramitha, just north of Samawah, where we're testing the water conditions to ensure that they, in fact, are safe for use again. Throughout the liberated areas of Iraq, there are efforts like these to quickly transition into the future of Iraq.
RENUART: Thanks, Vince.
Two points before I open up to questions. We mentioned the 40- some-odd million leaflets, and people have said, "Well, so what do they really do for you?" Well, let me give you an example.
As we were going back into the oil fields with the U.K. engineers, U.S. engineers, Kuwaiti engineers and returning the Iraqi oil workers back to the sites, we were interviewing the staff of the Iraqi oil industry. We noticed that many of these wells had, in fact, been wired to be destroyed. And we also noticed that many of them, even though there were explosives set in place, had the valves turned off. So that even if you had an explosion, it wouldn't necessarily damage the oil well.
You all here. You watched this happen. How did they do this? And they said, "We read your leaflets. We heard your broadcasts. We understand that keeping the oil infrastructure was important for our future. And so, while we complied for our own protection with the regime, we ensured that true damage to the oil fields would not occur." So there's a case where a message passed by a number of means -- leaflets, radio broadcast and even some television broadcast -- was getting to the people that could protect the future of that country. So there's a real powerful message there.
And I'm pretty old -- I forgot what the second point is. I'll get to it in questions.
Now, I'm going start. I always go to the front row, but I'm going to go in the back first. So let me go back here to the gentlemen in the gray shirt, and I'll come up to the front row in a minute.
QUESTION: Could you tell us something more about civil administration? I understand that this pillar of your operation is getting more and more important by the day. So could you tell us about your endeavor to set up a civil administration? We understand that this has been postponed somehow. Maybe you are encountering difficulties. I don't know. And also about this meeting of all Iraqi political factions in Nasiriyah which had been announced Vice President Cheney yesterday, and then I don't know, maybe has been canceled or something.
RENUART: Well, let me first say that you are absolutely right that the pillar of humanitarian assistance, civil affairs, civil military operations is becoming more and more important. But I want to make sure that no one believes that the military operation has even yet slowed down. But let me go back to the issue of civil governance. As we have seen in many of these cities, there is a governance that has been based on tradition for many, many years in many of these cities. It's based on the clerics in the community and the tribal leaders in the community.
As we have taken away the regime dominance, if you will, we have seen that reemerge. That gives us a natural avenue to restore order and to begin to put some structure back into the communities.
RENUART: Clearly, the Iraqi people will choose how each of these towns will be governed. Clearly, the Iraqi people will choose what their country's government will look like.
So we attempt to work with the known and respected leaders in each of the communities to maintain security while the country begins to move forward towards whatever will be the final government.
Now, with respect to the meeting that you mentioned -- I didn't hear Vice President Cheney's words, so I wouldn't want to quote what he said -- but we do intend to have a meeting of many of the interested parties from all over Iraq, both inside and outside the country, to discuss just this point. I can't tell you what will be the outcome because this truly is the first in a series of discussions to allow the Iraqi people to begin to voice their preference for the future. I don't know of any indication that that has been canceled. In fact, I believe it's still on track. And so, the reports that it had been canceled, I can't give you anything there.
QUESTION: Two questions about two areas.
One, Kirkuk. Could you confirm whether or not Kurdish fighters, backed up by special forces have actually entered the city there? Could you perhaps clarify whether this is a planned operation sponsored by the Americans or a unilateral operation the Kurdish fighters themselves have embarked upon?
And the fighting in the second area over to the Syrian frontier, at al-Qaim, or however you pronounce it. We've heard a lot from Donald Rumsfeld about Iraqi leaders moving to Syria, possibly weapons of mass destruction moving to Syria. That is, obviously, the main and shortest land route from the Iraqi capital. Could you kind of set all that in some sort of wider context?
RENUART: Let me go to your second first. You're right, the route from Baghdad through Amadiyah out to al-Qaim is the shortest route to the west out of the country. Our special forces, as we've talked over a number of days, are in a position to carefully monitor and control the flow of traffic, both westbound and eastbound, on that road, and we're doing so.
With respect to al-Qaim, it is, as you know, the border town, right along the Syrian border.
BROOKS: It has had a substantial presence of Iraqi Special Republican Guard, paramilitary force and some regular army units in that area, and we have continued to conduct unconventional warfare, direct-action missions and airstrikes against those forces.
We believe that those forces have been significantly reduced over the last week or two, and we believe we're in a position where we can begin to control that area more freely. I can't put a time on that to you. We'll continue to work that. We continue to have some discussions with leaders in that area, and we believe we're making good progress.
With respect to Kirkuk, the first point I would make is that, as you know, we've had special forces in the northern region for quite some time. They have established a relationship with fighters in that area -- Kurdish fighters in that area, and in close coordination with the leadership of the Kurdish region have established that the coalition forces would be the command element, if you will, for operations in the north. So operations that may occur will be done in close coordination with and under the control of our U.S. forces.
With respect to this specific story, I don't have information that says there are any fighters in the city. I know that there have been a number of movements along what we call the Green Line over the last week or so. In many cases, the Iraqi regular army forces have been falling back away from that. And in many of those cases, our U.S. forces are pushing forward. We'll continue to monitor those operations, and it would be premature to say anything specifically has happened or will happen in the city itself of Kirkuk.
QUESTION: Two questions. One, can you tell us a little bit more about the fighting that's taken place in Baghdad today? We understand there's been some very fierce fighting around an area where it's believed senior Baathist party members are meeting.
And also, could you give us a little more, perhaps, about what's happening in al Qaim? What is so interesting there for the coalition forces? Is it simply the presence of Special Republican Guards, or is this a missile launch site or weapons of mass destruction? What is it that's specifically interesting to you there?
RENUART: Well, since we were talking of al Qaim, I'll go to that question first. If you look back during the Gulf War, the al Qaim area, greater al Qaim -- that happens to be just a city that's sort of in that region -- but that area was the site of the largest number of surface- to-surface missile launches that occurred from the western portion of Iraq. We clearly are interested in protecting the neighbors in that region. And so, it's in our strategic interest to ensure that we preclude any capability of surface-to-surface missiles, especially those that are long range, to be launched from that area. That allows us to preserve the security of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries on the border. So it's preventive medicine, I think is probably the best way to describe it.
By our presence, by our activity, by our air power, we hope to reduce the possibility that if there is that capability there, and we truly don't know for sure, but if there is that capability that we would prevent it from being a serious factor, especially at this point in the campaign.
Now, let me go back to your question on the fight within Baghdad. An interesting dynamic has begun to occur as you see areas of the city sort of shed the bonds of the Iraqi regime. That has brought to light a number of leads. They're over here. They're over there, wherever they are. I think it's an understandable situation in the city, because these people have been held in terror for quite some time. But not all of those leads are either current or even accurate, but we have to try to run each of them to ground.
In this case, we had information that a meeting may be occurring of some senior leadership in this particular area of the city. It happened that this area was also an area that was planned for military operations for today. And so, the confluence of both of those came together this morning in the vicinity of the mosque that General Brooks mentioned.
Our troops were fired on, took heavy fire from the vicinity of this mosque and another location and were engaged in a fairly heavy fire-fight for a number of hours. We've resolved that. We've killed or captured the enemy force that was taking us under fire, and we continue operations through there.
We will have a number of these reports -- people who believe that they have some information -- and we're going to have to take each of those in, evaluate them against what we know to be the case and then take action either on the ground or through the use of special forces, as it's appropriate.
QUESTION: Can you please update us on the situation in and around Tikrit?
QUESTION: What sort of a fight is going on there or what sort of fight you expect.
And also, the situation in Baghdad and Basra, especially the looting, a couple of months ago the Iraqi government let out a lot of criminals, thousands of criminals out of prisons, and it seems that they're also taking advantage of the power vacuum. What are you going to do about that? Because citizens who are sitting at home are also getting attacked, it's not only government property.
RENUART: That's a very good point, and I think it's one that we need to spend a moment on.
Two aspects. First, for a city, in some cases cities, maybe even a country that has been held prisoner, there is a great deal of bad feelings towards the regime. So it's not necessarily surprising that many of these people would choose to go these symbols of regime leadership and take things or express their anger. On the other hand, that's not the way we would like to have cities conduct themselves each day.
In the case of Basra, for example, I mentioned some of the senior clerics have asked the U.K. military to help to provide presence in neighborhoods so that the emotions will have a chance to calm, and that's occurring. And in fact, today we've seen many fewer reports of that kind of behavior in Basra.
Some of the reports that we saw yesterday were from the eastern portion of Baghdad, and those were areas where we had not yet actually put military forces into, but rather the reaction of many of the people in those neighborhoods to small pockets of regime leaders or regime figures in that area. Today we have begun to move some U.S. military, coalition military into some of these areas. And, again, it starts to settle.
Our intent would be to work with the leaders in each of these areas, because I think all of us understand that it's better to have a safe, quiet life in our neighborhoods than not. And we will continue through our civil-military operations, our civil affairs teams and our special forces to work with these neighborhood leaders initially to begin to help to calm their own neighborhoods, and that usually is the best way to succeed. And then, over time, the Iraqi officials in cities will begin to build a police force to do the normal security things that we would expect in any city.
QUESTION: Will you declare a curfew? RENUART: We really haven't addressed that issue. In some areas, for example in Basra, we were asked if we would consider a curfew. The local commander there is discussing that with the leaders to decide. He was asked by the local community leaders. And they'll make a decision based on what they believe to be appropriate. It may not be for the city, might be for just an area of a neighborhood. It will depend.
Our intent is not to be heavy-handed, but it is to ensure that stability is brought back into the areas. And I think some of the natural emotion will begin to settle and has already.
QUESTION: And on Tikrit?
RENUART: I'm sorry. Yes, Tikrit. I can't give you a lot in Tikrit, because we do not have any substantial U.S. forces in that area. It certainly is an area that we're focused on as we continue our military operations towards the north. As I mentioned, we still have a long ways to go. We've really only covered about half or 60 percent of the country as we move to the north. So we have operations that will continue, that will address those areas that so far we have not been able to get our forces into.
QUESTION: Your secretary of state demonstrated the ability of the U.S. military to not only monitor, but intercept communications from the regime before this conflict even started. Curious to know what kind of communications, if any, you are still able to monitor, and are there any communications from the regime within?
RENUART: Boy, you're going to get me in trouble. I'm not sure I can tell you what the secretary of state said, and I wouldn't try to evaluate his comments.
QUESTION: He had what appeared to be cell phone recordings before the U.N.
RENUART: I got it.
I would say that this coalition -- and it's not just the United States, it's certainly all the coalition members -- have a sophisticated capability to monitor signals in a number of ways. We continue to do that.
As to what we've actually received from that, I'm really not willing to go down that road.
RENUART: So I'll just leave it alone and say that we'll continue to evaluate all types of intelligence to try to help us find those last pockets of the regime.
QUESTION: Could you give us a rundown on the quantity and the types of equipment that you've captured and what's actually going to happen to the equipment of the Iraqi armed forces?
RENUART: Well, quantities of equipment would be a challenge for me to be specific, because any number I give you right now would be a lie. It changes from hour to hour as we uncover a number of sites throughout the country.
But I will say that each day we have uncovered either numbers of destroyed pieces of equipment, which will go to the nearest scrap metal yards and be turned over to people that can do something with it in recycling, or those pieces of equipment that are still functional we will maintain control of.
At some point in the future, just as we did in Afghanistan, we're rebuilding the Afghan national army, there will be some form of military security force built back for Iraq, and it would be a shame to not use some of that equipment that is still functional in order to keep the cost of returning that force -- a force -- in the future.
QUESTION: Could you give us a snapshot right now of the area of Baghdad that you feel comfortably under coalition control, an assessment of what you think the capability is still of Iraqi forces, and has there been any directive given to U.S. troops not to display a U.S. flag in Iraq again?
RENUART: I don't think there's been direction for U.S. forces not to display a U.S. flag. I think you've seen in a couple cases instances where in sort of enthusiasm and jubilation we've seen some of our forces bring out the American flag and then think better of it.
And truly, the guidance from headquarters is, you have to understand that this is the country of Iraq. We will have our flag over our forces where we find our forces, and where the Iraqi people begin to reclaim their country, then the Iraqi flag will be flown. And I think, for example, yesterday you saw both coming from the same young man.
So I think we'll continue to be enthusiastic where we've succeeded and understanding of the importance of establishing Iraq for free Iraqis for the future. QUESTION: The assessment on the area of Baghdad.
RENUART: Baghdad's still an ugly place. Baghdad's still an ugly place. There are many parts of the city that are either not secured by U.S. forces or are sort of unsecured at all, and there are other places in the city where we believe there are still pockets of remaining small elements of Republican Guard, Special Republican Guard and paramilitary forces. And that's really the objective of our operations in Baghdad now, is to go to those locations and return some stability.
In terms of how big a percentage or what have you, it would be, again, unfair, because just as I mentioned with counting tanks, we are succeeding each day to secure more and more of the city, and I think we're making good progress with it.
QUESTION: Two questions. Number one, where are Saddam, Uday, Qusay, Tariq Aziz, all those other folks? Secondly...
RENUART: Do you all, like, draw straws to see where that question's going to go in the room each day?
QUESTION: Secondly -- you're not going to answer this one either...
... the MOAB. I saw a report on TV this morning that it had been brought in for possible use. Are you going to use it? Is it really necessary at this stage? Thanks.
RENUART: Well, I'll go to the second question first.
The so-called MOAB or the BLU-82, which is a 15,000-pound weapon, are surely weapons that are available to us to use really anywhere it's appropriate. We wouldn't want to take away from any commander the opportunity to use appropriate weapons for their part of the battlefield.
As to an intention to use it, a target to use it for, I think it would be very unfair of me to presuppose any of those possibilities, and we leave that to the commanders out in the battlefield to make a recommendation on both targets and applicable weapons.
With respect to Saddam and Uday and Qusay and Mr. Aziz, don't know where they are. But we'll continue our pursuit of any intelligence that might indicate where they are. I don't know that they're alive and I don't know that they're dead.
RENUART: But that's, again, not really important to us.
We will continue to pursue the security and the successful accomplishment of the operation, and as that occurs, those other pieces will fall into place, I'm confident.
QUESTION: You were talking about the mosque, and you said several people -- enemy forces were captured or killed. Can you give us more details as to who they were, whether they were Baath leadership? And also, how about casualties on your side?
RENUART: We did suffer some wounded. The specific numbers of those casualties -- we really don't have a good number, so I'd prefer not to describe that.
In terms of the enemy forces, the only report I have that I think is fairly valid is that a number of the killed and captured were dressed in the similar black kinds of garb that we have seen -- at least other of these paramilitary forces dressed in. Now, whether that means they were Special Republican Guard or Republican Guard who have changed uniforms or some of these other organizations, I'm really not able to give you more specifics than that.
QUESTION: At the top of the briefing you spoke a bit about Mosul and said that, I think, special forces had moved into the area. Does that mean you're actually in Mosul itself, and what kind of resistance are you meeting there? Are you with any Kurdish fighters, as well? And secondly, yesterday we saw some reports of foreign fighters inside Baghdad itself. If you could give an assessment of how big of a role are they playing now in the current resistance in Baghdad, elsewhere? Are you seeing more coming in, even from Syria, from that side currently?
RENUART: Oh, you mean bad guy foreign fighters.
QUESTION: Bad guy, yes.
RENUART: OK. That's good, because I didn't know we had some others.
QUESTION: Are they still coming into the country as they were a week ago?
RENUART: Let me first talk to Mosul. We have had and continue to have military forces, U.S. forces in the vicinity of Mosul. They are supported by -- as you know, we have the 173rd Brigade on the ground. We have additional military force that is continuing to flow into that region. Certainly we have support from the Kurdish fighters in that area.
The operations will continue there and, as the U.S. forces see the opportunity and can seize the opportunity to further expand, to push the Iraqi forces out of Mosul or Kirkuk or other places, they'll certainly try to take advantage of that. As we flow forces from the south to the north, we will continue to squeeze those forces.
So in terms of, do we have U.S. forces in Mosul? I'm not aware that we do, but we certainly have U.S. forces there close by observing, calling fires and taking advantage of opportunities that might arise.
QUESTION: Foreign fighters?
RENUART: Foreign fighters? You know, we've had some reports. We had a number of reports about a week ago. We've since seen fewer reports, but we have had a number on the battlefield killed or captured. We've not seen additional influxes that I can tell. And as I said, I think our forces in the west are doing a pretty credible job of keeping elements from coming into the country that aren't desired.
QUESTION: I want to go back to a point that General Brooks made yesterday. He confirmed that uniforms of U.S. personnel had been found in Rasheed, near the airport, at the old prison. Without going into the names, unless you want to volunteer that...
RENUART: Good try.
QUESTION: ... could you tell us whether those names matched the names of those who were prisoners of war or missing in action? And also, do you have any information on their conditions?
RENUART: No, I can't confirm that, and won't confirm that; whether they match names, don't match names. I think what General Brooks said is we had evidence of U.S. that may have been held there because we saw some U.S. uniforms. I think it would be unfair to speculate anything more than that. And so, I'll leave it at that.
QUESTION: As law and order becomes more of a concern in Baghdad, how are coalition forces changed their military orientation from one of combat to one of stability -- that's a word you've mentioned at least five times now in the last half hour or so. How are you changing your military operations, your orientation so that soldiers might have to become more of a military policeman in the streets of Baghdad?
RENUART: Well, that's a good question.
Our forces have been trained for a broad variety of circumstances on the battlefield, and some of those circumstances are civil-military operations. I hesitate to say military police, because that's really not their task.
But, for example, in the Marine side of the city, part of the training of our Marines is to deal in both urban environments and to deal in a relationship of civil-military kinds of operations.
And I think the answer to the question is, it will be a natural transition from combat to providing presence and stability -- that's six times in a half an hour -- into these neighborhoods.
And there's probably a very good reason why I say that. It is important for us to create the environment that is secure, and with a secure environment come the more routine functions of day-to-day life. Schools reopening. Markets reopening. Those things add to and create stability in each of those neighborhoods.
That doesn't mean you have to be the enforcer of the law on the street. I think you can do that with presence and compassionate relationships with the members of the community, and I think that's the direction we'll go forward.
QUESTION: Let's go back north again. Two questions.
Tikrit. You said something that surprised me a little bit, that we don't have significant forces around Tikrit right now. I think the sense some of us had here was that that was potentially the last stand, the last battlefield. Can you paint us a picture of what the United States has in Tikrit and perhaps what Iraq has there?
Kirkuk. You're describing a situation that what a lot of people were referring to the before the war as the Afghan model, where special forces would team up with local fighters, but the local fighters, in this case the Kurds, would sort of do the fighting on the United States' behalf. Is that a sense of what's happening around Kirkuk right now?
RENUART: No, I think the way we used our special forces in Afghanistan was appropriate to that situation. I think the way we're using our special forces in the Kurdish territory and in northern Iraq, while it has many of the attributes, is unique to that environment. So I'll say no, it's the way -- I wouldn't say it is the Afghan model.
And that'll beg the question, so what are you doing? Well, I think the answer to the question is, allow time to show, and you'll see the results.
With respect to Tikrit, certainly Tikrit is one of the key strongholds, potential strongholds of the Baath Party and the Tikriti clan, and that is an area that is important to us.
I don't want to misrepresent the fact that we have put a great deal of emphasis on Tikrit. Some of it has been conventional. Some of it has been unconventional. In many of those cases it doesn't take many people to create a desired effect.
So we'll continue to increase our emphasis on Tikrit and other of the remaining strongholds of the Baath Party and continue to operate along the plan, the timeline that we have laid out.
QUESTION: General, can you tell us how many hospitals in Baghdad are under control of the coalition forces? And the Red Cross says many of the hospitals are overwhelmed by patients. Can you describe the situation there?
RENUART: Well, as far as we know, there are about 125 or so hospitals within the greater Baghdad area. We've been trying to do surveys of those. There are certainly some that have a large number of patients and that have been hit by lack of electricity and lack of water.
As to how many of that 125, I can't really say. We are continuing to expand those assessments.
One thing is clear, that we are attempting to identify those areas where we can restore power and water very rapidly. We are trying to move some additional supplies into some of the most hard hit of the hospitals, and we'll continue to do that over time. Adn that operation will expand just as our military operations within the city have expanded.
QUESTION: Going back to Kirkuk, how are you going to reconcile the different desires of the Kurds and Turkey? And the Kurds seem to have gone into Kirkuk, which is very much what Turkey was worried about. Are you in contact with Turkey to reassure them? Are you trying to persuade the Kurds not to take up certain positions? How will you reconcile that?
RENUART: Well, first, I'd say that the coalition forces are in direct contact with all of the parties in the region, the Turks, the Kurds, both sides, the PUK and the KDP. It is clear to all of those what our position is, what our guidance is to the forces on the ground, and I think we'll be able to maintain a very consistent approach to that problem over time. So I'm not worried that one side may miscalculate the other.
We continue to work very aggressively with both sides to ensure that our intentions are very clear. It's to return stability to the country as quickly as we can.
QUESTION: Is there any more detail you can give us about the (INAUDILBE) rolling into Baghdad yesterday? Did it happen more quickly than you expected? Were they responding to some opening that...
RENUART: No. Actually, the construct of that operation was designed initially to provide an encirclement, if you will, and then to move through the main sectors, the area between the canal and the river, and then the area to the east of the canal. It was designed to be coordinated effort and it worked pretty much right on the plan.
QUESTION: Two questions, General, if you please.
First, it was information in some media that Saddam two nights ago, Saddam leaved in the direction to Iran. That's why Fedayeens leave the city and it was no big battle. Please, do you think the operation will be complete if you will not find Saddam like it was in Afghanistan with Osama bin Laden?
And the second question, before the war, Iraq had something about 3,500 tanks, and according to the information from Internet (ph), from Russian satellites, coalition have not destroyed a half of these tanks. Where are these tanks now? Just what part of it you have and what part of it is now with Iraqis? I mean are they just in Tikrit?
Thank you. RENUART: OK, two good questions.
First, I guess I would not argue with what Russian satellites are able to see. I'd just say that our estimates may differ a little bit and we feel that we have either taken control of, which means we may not have destroyed, we may own them now, or destroyed a substantial portion of the armor that was that made up the Iraqi military.
With respect to Saddam, it would be surprising to me that Saddam would go to Iran. I wouldn't think he would have a hearty welcome there.
And with respect to completing the operation, you'll recall that, as we've said a number of times, the operation is designed to end the regime, to take away any capability to use weapons of mass destruction and to eliminate the possibility that either support of terrorism could occur here or that proliferation of those weapons would continue.
QUESTION: Notwithstanding there are still pockets of fighting going on in Baghdad, can you explain how winning Baghdad alters or assists you in the search for weapons of mass destruction? Does this mean there are resources freed up or that there are documents you now have access to, and what are you doing to exploit that? RENUART: That's a good question. We've said a couple times that we believe that many of the sources of information would be in and around the Baghdad area, and so as we move into that area and establish more and more control, we hope to gain access to more and more of the facilities that may yield some of that information.
I think also it's important to say that many of the places where WMD might be hidden are not going to be obvious to the eye. And we're going to have to use some detailed intelligence study and then some very detailed detective work to identify some of these locations and then exploit them.
Certainly, as you stabilize Baghdad, the force requirements to be in the city will adjust slightly and I would hope that would give us some additional capability to get out to some of the other outlying areas that may not yet have been visited.
I appreciate everybody's time. Thank you very much.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We've been listening in to what is the afternoon briefing from Central Command in Doha Qatar. The basic theme, despite the celebrations you see across Iraq, this war is far from over.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com