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Coalition Forces Have Struck Over 100 Targets in Libya, Mostly Anti-Aircraft Defense Capabilities; The Death Toll in Japan is Now Over 8,100 People, with Over 10,000 Still Missing

Aired March 20, 2011 - 02:00   ET


FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our bureaus in the United States and around the world. I'm Fionnuala Sweeney at CNN Center and this is WORLD REPORT.

Sunday has dawned in Libya to a second day of Operation Odyssey Dawn.

In response to the barrage from above, Colonel Moammar Gadhafi's defenses have been peppering Libyan skies with anti-aircraft fire. At least 20 of the Libyan leader's air and missile defense installations have been struck by French, U.S. and U.K. cruise missile and fighter jets. More than 100 American and Britain missiles have been fired so far.

This is the first phase of the coalitions enforcement of the no-fly zone, approved on Thursday by the United Nations Security Council.

U.S. President Barack Obama calls the use of force a last resort. He authorized U.S. military action while on a trip to Brazil, where he had these words for Colonel Gadhafi.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The use of force is not our first choice. It's not a choice that I make lightly. But we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy.


SWEENEY: But Gadhafi remains defiant. He says other nations have no right to intervene in Libya's internal affairs. Gadhafi spoke on Libyan state television soon after the allied attacks began.


MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER (through translator): Libya will exercise its right to defend itself according to Section One of the United Nations Charter, that all targets will be exposed to real danger in the Mediterranean -- Mediterranean and North Africa.

Because of this aggression -- naked aggression and this irresponsible aggression, it's a war zone.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SWEENEY: Well, Libyan state television also ran what it called an official statement from the Libyan military. It reads, quote, "an enemy attacks the state on March 19th with rockets in Tripoli, Misrata, Benghazi, Zwara (ph) and Serth (ph). Those enemies killed 48 martyrs, mostly women, children and religious clerics. They left more than 150 injured. The majority of these attacks were in public areas, hospitals and schools. They frightened the children and women near those areas that were subject to this aggression," end quote.

Well, CNN hasn't confirmed this report by Libya state television.

The U.S. military says the strikes in Libya are just the first of what's likely to be a multi-phase operation. The U.S. and Britain launched a barrage of Tomahawk Cruise Missiles at strategic air defense targets in the western part of country.

The Pentagon stressed the strikes are part of an international coalition.


VICE ADM. WILLIAM GORTNEY, DIRECTOR, JOINT STAFF: These strikes were carefully coordinated with our coalition partners. The targets themselves were selected based on our collective assessment that these sites either pose a direct threat to the coalition pilots or through use by the regime pose a direct threat to the people of Libya.

Because it is night over there, it will be some time before we have a complete picture of the success of these strikes. I want to stress, however, that this is just the first phase of what will likely be a multi-phase military operation designed to enforce the United Nations Resolution, and deny the Libyan regime the ability to use force against its own people.

This is an international military effort, urged by the Libyan people themselves and by other Arab nations. We are joined by several other allied partners and are committed to supporting their efforts.

Indeed, we continue to receive commitments of support and participation of leadership from both Arab and European partners.


SWEENEY: For more details on Europe's role in the attacks on Libya, senior international correspondent Jim Bitterman is live in our Paris bureau and Jim Boulden is in London.

Let's start with Jim Boulden in London with the latest there. Jim how many resources is Britain prepared to put into these strikes? And how front and center do they want to be in this operation?

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, Britain is front and center. And Prime Minister David Cameron has made that very clear. Of course, he was one of the ones pushing for this no-fly zone. He was able -- he was speaking about this last night. And last night also we learned that it wasn't just the Tomahawk Missiles from the submarines that were launched against Libya, but also cruise missiles from Tornados. And these were from some fast jets that flew out of RAF Maram (ph) in Norfolk. They flew some 3,000 miles round trip.

The Royal Air force saying this is the longest trip that these planes have taken since the Falklands War in 1982.

So we've seen cruise missiles. We're seeing Tomahawk Missiles. As I said, Prime Minister Cameron came out of Number 10 last night to make this statement to the British people.


DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: What we are doing is necessary. It is legal. And it is right.

It is necessary because, with others, we should be trying to prevent him using his military against his own people.

It is legal because we have the backing of the United Nations Security Council, and also of the Arab League and many others.

And it is right because I believe we should not stand aside while this dictator murders his own people.


BOULDEN: And Fionnuala, the defense secretary, Liam Fox, has also said in a comment that Typhoon Aircraft are standing by to provide support as well. So you can see a lot of assets are being deployed.

SWEENEY: What's the public appetite in Britain for this operation?

BOULDEN: Well, it's going to be interesting to see, because, of course, a lot of criticism for what Britain was -- did in Iraq, of course, with the previous prime minister, Tony Blair. This is being seen quite differently, of course, because there was support from the opposition for what David Cameron has done so far.

So I have to say, at the moment, the support is quite positive.

SWEENEY: All right, Jim Boulden in London.

Let me go to Jim Bitterman now in Paris and begin with the same question, Jim, to you. What is the appetite in France for this operation, which France seems to be certainly taking a front and center role?

JIM BITTERMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, about the only measure of public opinion we've got -- it isn't a particularly accurate one -- was an Internet poll that was taken a few weeks a go, that indicated the French were -- the vast majority against any kind of military operation in Libya. However, having said that, just before the buildup of forces and the first strikes yesterday, major members of the opposition parties here were basically on board with Sarkozy in terms of clamoring for actions against Gadhafi and actions against his regime, and in support of the rebels in Benghazi.

So from a political standpoint, Sarkozy has a good deal of cover. Here's the way he justified taking this action yesterday, just before the shootings started.


NICOLAS SARKOZY, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): Arab peoples have chosen to free themselves from the enslavement in which they have felt trapped for too long. These revolts have given --


BITTERMAN: Sarkozy has basically said that, in fact, it was necessary to take these actions. It appears that the French forces are concentrating their efforts in the Benghazi area in support of the rebels there, as opposed to some of the other efforts taken by the British and the United States in other parts of Libya.

By the way, in terms of public opinion, there's only one poll I know that's been in preparation and should be out on Tuesday that will give us a more accurate idea of what the French public really think about this.

SWEENEY: In terms of President Sarkozy himself, you say he has a lot of political cover. But he does seem to be want to be leading the charge, or at least from the vantage point of the United States, be seem to be leading this, to a certain degree?

BITTERMAN: Well, I think there's a couple things going on there. One thing, I think is sincerely they really were offended at the kind of thing that was taking place, the way the rebels were increasingly trapped and mercilessly killed in the east of Libya. That's one thing.

But I think also Sarkozy was tremendously stung by his reception of Gadhafi a few years back, in which Gadhafi was treated as a potentate when he came to Paris. He was roundly criticized here for that. I think, in some ways, this is a little bit of, perhaps, revenge for the kind of attacks that he suffered because he welcomed Gadhafi a few years ago.

SWEENEY: All right, Jim Bitterman, senior international correspondent, in Paris, thanks very much indeed.

What role, if any, will Arab nations have in enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya. The Arab League says at least two Arab nations will contribute to the operation. But it's not yet clear if any of these nations will actually take part.

Qatar says it will take part in international efforts to protect civilians. Qatar and the United Arab Emirates also have fleets of C- 17 and C-130 transport planes, which could ferry troops to the region.

Saudi Arabia is another possibility. According to the "Wall Street Journal," the Saudis could provide intelligence with AWACS surveillance aircraft and tanker planes to help refuel allied aircraft.

The UAE has at least two squadrons of F-16 and Mirage fighter jets, and it could use its Apache and Chinook helicopters to help with search and rescue efforts.

The Pentagon says the coalition is softening up Libyan positions before beginning enforcement of the no-fly zone. CNN's John King takes a look at what is a raid against Colonel Gadhafi and how it's being used.


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: It is called Operation Odyssey Dawn. The initial targets mostly along the northern Libyan coastline. Why? Those, of course, are the major cities, the major oil gas installations, and, of course, the political capital Tripoli. But the reason those targets were along the coast in the early days is because this is where Moammar Gadhafi has his most powerful weaponry that could be used -- could be used against coalition pilots.

The purple circles, S-200. In U.S. military lingo, S-5. NATO call them Russian-made surface to air missiles with a range of about 150 miles. Those were the biggest targets in the initial strikes. And those will continue to be targeted.

The smaller circles, other surface to air missiles, anti-aircraft batteries that Gadhafi has at his disposal. Again, those will be the top targets early on because of their ability to shoot down coalition planes.

Now, they were targeted. First, there were some firings from French fighter jets. But most of this was done -- the bulk of this was done using cruise missiles.

We can show you where they come from. They came from offshore. The USS Florida, the USS Providence, the USS Scranton, three submarines in the United States Navy that carry Tomahawk Cruise missiles. A British sub also took part.

The Guided Missile Destroyers the USS Barry and the USS Stout also taking part in the operation from the Mediterranean. What do they all have in common? They fire the Tomahawk Cruise Missile.

You see this photo taking off from the USS Barry. Here's what a Tomahawk looks like. It's programmed on the sub or on the ship. It flies low to the ground.

There is a newer version that has an optics package so it can hover over a target and be programmed and then take off. We are told, in the initial wave, all of the programming was done back on the ship or in the sub. That is an option that could be used heading forward. Again, the cruise missiles came from the Barry and the Stout. But there are other U.S. ships in the Mediterranean, an amphibious assault ship, although the president has said under no circumstances would troops, including Marines, go ashore, command control ship the Mount Whitten (ph), very important in the early days of the operation, and an amphibious transport dock the Ponce, also there to help support the operation.

Those are among the U.S. ships. There are also a number of Canadian, British ships in the area. We know in the days ahead a French carrier is also coming in from Toulon. The French Aircraft Carrier Charles de Gaulle.

Those French jets that launched the first strikes, they came from up here in France. If you look at this map, this is the Libyan coast right down in here. This is where this operation will be run from in the days ahead. A number of NATO and U.S. installations in Italy, a U.S. Naval Air Station in Spain as well.

This is where all the assets will be coordinated in the days ahead. As we are told the operations that began in the first wave will continue, especially targeting along the coast in the early days. Then when the no-fly zone kicks in, not only will the United States, Canada, Spain, France, Italy and Great Britain take part; we're also told to look for Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to use their air force to help enforce that no-fly zone over Libya.


SWEENEY: CNN's John King. And Sunday morning has dawned in Libya. We continue to bring you the latest developments in this.

Up next, we'll be having a live interview with a Middle East analyst as coalition forces pressure the embattled Leader Moammar Gadhafi. You are watching WORLD REPORT.


SWEENEY: Recapping the latest from Libya; U.S. officials will conduct a damage assessment from Libyan sites struck thus far. French, British and U.S. forces on Saturday began slamming Libyan military positions with fighter jets and missiles. The first phase of Operation Odyssey Dawn to enforce the new United Nations no-fly zone.

This comes after the Libyan Leader Moammar Gadhafi refused to stop attacking civilians in his country's civil war.

U.S. President Barack Obama says the use of force was necessary, but not the allies' first choice.

The strikes against Libya came just two days after the U.N. imposed a no-fly zone over the country. So how does it happen so fast for a leader who has ruled for so long?

Don Lemon has that.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Freedom's cry erupted in Tunisia, deposing a dictator. Engulfed Egypt, ousting a president.

Swept across Libya, virtually unrestrained until colliding with a defiant Colonel Moammar Gadhafi.

GADHAFI: We are prepared to break any aggression by the people, the armed people.

LEMON: By mid February, anti-Gadhafi forces had taken strategic towns in the he East of the country, including Benghazi, Libya's second largest city, where one of Gadhafi's palaces had been trashed by dissidents.

Ill-equipped, largely untrained but not afraid to risk their lives for freedom.

Some died, nearly 1,000 by one account. Gadhafi fought hard, turning air strikes and live ammunition against civilians. The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved sanctions on Libya. There were some calls for direct action.

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: I begin with the imposition of a no-fly zone, so that Gadhafi can't be attacking his own people from the air.

LEMON: In Libya, on the day after the U.N. vote, there were deadly clashes over control of the rebel-held towns of Zawiyah and Misrata, west of the capital. Days later in the east, two towns controlled by dissidents, Albrega (ph) and Zawiyah (ph), were bombed for the second straight day, followed by a report that the government was once again in control of Zawiyah.

At the center of the conflict sat Gadhafi, defiant.

GADHAFI: Thousands and thousands of people will be killed. Determined, I came here in order to greet you. Greet your courage, and I tell you to repel them.

LEMON: And at times delusional.

GADHAFI: All my people with me. They love me, all.

LEMON: Meanwhile, Libya became a no man's land for foreigners, including the country's vast number of foreign guest workers. Some 200,000 are said to have fled, many across the border with Tunisia, creating a mass refugee crisis.

The airports were swamped by polyglot mobs scrambling to get out.

This week, as Libyan government forces began retaking towns held by rebels, the United Nations voted to impose a no-fly zone over the country.

SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: This resolution should send a strong message to Colonel Gadhafi and his regime.


SWEENEY: Don Lemon reporting.

In a moment, the toll of the dead and missing rises.

And engineers at Japan's damaged Fukushima Nuclear Power Complex have a new headache to deal with. We'll tell you about it when WORLD REPORT returns.


SWEENEY: Time now to check out what's been happening in Japan. Natalie Allen has our coverage for us this morning. Natalie.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Fionnuala.

More unsettling news out of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear power complex. Japan's nuclear safety agency revealed today the pressure in the containment vessel of reactor number three of the Daiichi Nuclear Plant is increasing.

Officials say they're planning an operation to reduce that pressure. Meantime, a super pumper is trying to keep the reactor cool as engineers struggle to restore power to cooling systems at the plant.

Well, the search continues for more than 12,000 people still listed as missing after the March 11th earthquake and tsunami. The death toll now stands at 8,100.

More than a week after Japan's worst ever earthquake, you'll find an incredible amount of destruction, mountains of debris. CNN's Gary Tuchman takes us on a firsthand tour of one of the hardest hit areas in northeast Japan.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kesennuma, Japan; the scene behind me here is one of chaos and confusion. It's surreal. When you see the video we took, you won't believe it. At least we didn't when we saw it in person.

So much debris. So much rubble, it's impenetrable. It's like a canyon. When we went down there, it was like climbing a mountain of cars, boats, houses, pushed out of different neighborhoods, pushed out of different areas, and blocking fire officials, military officials from looking for survivors, the possibility of survivors, or trying to find bodies.

We met a woman today who told us her father was in the second floor of his house. He made the decision to stay in second floor when the tsunami siren sounded. Anyway, at this point, they can't get to the house. It appeared the house is still there, but there's so many rubble surrounding the house, there's no way to check if this man survived. It's just an absolutely incredible scene. It's hard to imagine what the people here in northeastern Japan are going through. The death toll is rising rapidly. We know it will continue to rise. We, ourselves, just myself and my crew found a body in the back of a car. This is how they're finding bodies, the officials.

There's so much rubble down there that they can't get to, it's very likely that it will be weeks or months before they come anywhere close to knowing what this death toll is.

The aftershocks continue. Last night while we were asleep, we felt at least six or seven sizable aftershocks. And that only increases the anxiety that people feel here in northeastern Japan.

This is Gary Tuchman, CNN, in Japan.


ALLEN: Coastal areas of Japan seeing renewed flooding, not from tsunamis but from astronomically high tides. Meteorologist Ivan Cabrera is with us for that. Ivan?

IVAN CABRERA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Indeed, Natalie. Good to see you. I'll tell you one thing, absolutely. Of course, we're talking about the super moon out not making things better here, as we've seen. The high tides across Japan causing additional flooding.

The problem here is not just the high tides. They have been coming in as they have always come in. But the problem is we had a 9.0 earthquake. That has literally sunk some of the coastline by 1.2 meters. That's almost four feet. Just incredible.

Of course, that now lends itself to more risk.

Take a look at some of the scenes from just a few days ago there. That water, again, shouldn't be there. If the folks in Ishenomaki, Japan were building that city from scratch today, they would not be building it there, because the tide would be coming in. They would see that, move it further to the west.

At this point, they're going to have to deal with how this is going to continue to happen here, because they've sunk. So they're going to have to put up a seawall here.

In fact, the warnings from the Japan Meteorological Agency continuing here. The low lying coasts are going to be vulnerable for additional flooding. And as I mentioned, the astronomically high tides, with the Parigean (ph) tides that are ongoing.

These are the times of danger here, 1.3 meters, heading into the rest of the afternoon. And then for Monday once again, and then we'll begin to see those levels dropping.

Still, we're not talking major catastrophic flooding here, by any stretch of the imagination. But any coastal flooding is just going to be a mess for the folks there trying to recover. Weather-wise, we do have a feature that's going to be moving in. Weather's going to turn unsettled. We've had a couple days of nice weather, a break, a nice warm up with a southwesterly wind.

Now we're going to see disturbances beginning move in. And in fact a front -- you see the wind barbs here coming from the south and from the north. There's your front. It's going to be moving through.

That is going to usher in a cooler air mass. It's also going to bring in some pretty hefty showers through the Tokyo area as well. And then we could see some higher elevation snowfall across the mountains to the west.

But there's your rain, it will continue. We'll have those temperatures into the mid-single digits. Should be about 10 degrees this time of year here. Now we're going below normal.

And the overnight temperatures are going to be quite chilly. A lot of folks are still without power. So that's certainly going to be impacting those there.

We'll stay on top of the coastal flooding situation and the winds, and we'll have another update when I see you next hour.

SWEENEY: All right, Ivan. Thanks very much, indeed.

Back to the situation in Libya now, where it is bright and light this Sunday morning. Intense pressure being put on security forces. But so far Moammar Gadhafi showing no sign of backing down.

Shadi Hamid is director of research at the Brookings Institution Center in Doha, Qatar. He joins us live via Skype. Thank you very much indeed.

How likely will it be that there will be participation from Arab forces in what's being called at least in the United States Operation Odyssey?

SHADI HAMID, BROOKINGS DOHA CENTER: The Arab countries aren't going to offer much support. First of all, they don't really have the military capability to play a major role. And getting Arab League support was mostly for symbolic reasons, so western nations could say that this was an international coalition, and that the Arab world was behind it.

That was very important for the legitimacy of this mission, the eyes of the world, especially after the experience with the Iraq War.

SWEENEY: Is that how it's being viewed in the Arab world, as an international coalition, rather than a western led coalition?

HAMID: It certainly is a realization that it's primarily led by western nations. But it's different from Iraq in the sense that this is something that many Arabs seem to support. The Arab League countries obviously backed the no-fly zone even before the U.S. did. And Arabs every day -- ordinary Arabs see this as a struggle for freedom in democracy in Libya, similar to their own struggles in say Egypt or Tunisia. There's a lot of pan-Arab solidarity here, where people are really rooting for the Libyan rebels to defeat Gadhafi.

SWEENEY: There is a consensus, as I'm sure you well know, that the situations in Bahrain is more strategically important for the region in terms of stability. What would be the implications of a protracted conflict in Libya be?

HAMID: Well, the longer Libya goes on, the less the U.S. can focus on Bahrain and Yemen, two spots which are becoming more troublesome, and where the governments there are using brute force against their own people. This is why people have said there's inconsistency in the U.S. position.

How come they're taking a strong stand on Libya, but they're not criticizing Bahrain aggressively and trying to tell them to stop what they're doing to protesters?

So that's going to be a difficult thing for the U.S. to reconcile. Especially now with Saudi troops still staying in there in Bahrain.

SWEENEY: If we go back to Libya for a moment, and talk about the possible but not necessarily, of course, the reality at this moment, in a post-Gadhafi situation, who would you envision taking control of the country and how stable would it be?

HAMID: If Gadhafi falls?

SWEENEY: Yes, should he?

HAMID: Well, there is a National Libyan Council which represents the rebels in the eastern part of the country. And that government has already been recognized by France. Secretary Clinton has had high level meetings with their leadership.

These are people that the west has constant contact with. To be fair, we don't know a lot about the -- until the leaders defect from Gadhafi's regime. So up until just a few weeks ago, they were part of a regime that they're now fighting.

So does that mean they became democrats overnight? It's possible that they saw the light. But we don't know -- we just don't know a lot.

But anyone who says that these are -- you know, they're Islamic extremists and things like that, that's not really accurate. We haven't really seen much evidence that there's a strong Islamic component to the rebel forces yet.

SWEENEY: All right, we must leave it there. Thanks very much, indeed, for joining, Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Institute -- Brookings Institution Center, I should say, in Doha, Qatar.

That is it for this edition of WORLD REPORT. I'm Fionnuala Sweeney at CNN Center. Stay tuned for "I REPORT FOR CNN."