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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Iraqi Council Meets for First Time

Aired July 14, 2003 - 19:06   ET

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

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We go now to Iraq, a newly formed governing council has already begun meeting in Baghdad. You probably know that by now. But not without violence.
There was a grenade attack outside a building where the council had gathered. And earlier today a soldier from the Army's 3rd Infantry Division was killed, six others wounded when their convoy was hit by multiple rocket propelled grenades in a Baghdad neighborhood.

CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson joins us live from Baghdad with more.

Nic, now what's the U.S. trying to do to prevent attacks from happening so often?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the U.S. does believe that this week could herald, perhaps, more attacks on troops, more than they've seen recently.

On the defensive aspect, troops that are in exposed guard positions are having sandbags and security barricades put up around their positions, but on the offensive side, Operation Ivy Serpent has now concluded its third day.

U.S. officials say 27 raids have been conducted, 226 Iraqis have been detained. Six of those, they say, are top loyalists to Saddam Hussein. They also say that hundreds of mortar rounds have been seized, about 50 AK-47 automatic machine guns, as well as dozens of rocket propelled grenades and those rocket propelled grenades were just the type of weaponry used this morning on the attack that wounded those ten U.S. soldiers and killed one other.

So on the offensive side, they say that they're making progress, yet this Operation Ivy Serpent, the fourth now in a line of operations and these attacks still continuing, Anderson.

COOPER: Nic, I'm curious to know how this new governing council in Iraq is being greeted by Iraqis on the streets. You know, it's supposed to resemble sort of the mosaic of Iraqi society, lots of different groups, religions, ethnic groups inside it.

How do Iraqis see it?

ROBERTSON: Well, there's a mosaic of responses, as well.

Some Iraqis say, "Look, there's too many outsiders, too many people who are in exile. They didn't suffer in the same way that we suffered. So we don't accept them."

There are others that say this is a good step forward. It's beginning to put some Iraqis in positions of authority in the country.

And a lot of people are hoping that this step is one that is really going bring them security. There's a lot of expectation being pinned on the governing council, rightly or wrongly, to provide security for the people.

One of the first things the council did today was analyze what it is going to do about security. It has a policymaking role in security. Although it hasn't formally make the decision yet, it's going to, it says, increase the number of Iraqi policemen from 35,000 to 60,000 in the next year and a half through a crash training program.

So they are trying to address some of these key issues, key for the Iraqi people.

COOPER: Nic Robertson, live in Baghdad. Thanks very much, Nic.

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