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CNN SUNDAY MORNING

Target Libya

Aired March 20, 2011 - 06:00   ET

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


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Thunderous explosions marking a new chapter in the fight for Libya. Coalition planes and missiles are now backing up international demands for a cease-fire.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi remaining defiant, speaking just moments ago. He's promising to arm Libyans in a fight against the world.

Also, avoiding further nuclear disaster in Japan. Pressure is subsiding in one of the volatile reactors, and the government is telling the people, don't panic about radiation levels in food.

From the CNN Center in Atlanta -- hello to you, all, on this Sunday. I'm T.J. Holmes.

We want to say hello to my colleague in London this morning, Richard Quest.

Richard, hello.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR: And a very good morning to you. I'm Richard Quest in the U.K. And we'd like to welcome viewers, not only in the United States, but around the world. CNN's special coverage on the war in Libya.

HOLMES: It's good to partner with you this morning, Richard.

We do want to start with the coalition's military might is being brought to bear on Libya and the defiant regime of leader Moammar Gadhafi. Missiles and planes are streaking through the sky, pounding critical targets on the ground.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

HOLMES: It's called Operation Odyssey Dawn. The main components right now are American and British cruise missiles and coalition airplanes. But the bulk of more than 100 missiles fired at strategic targets in Libya came from the U.S. Navy warships and submarines in the Mediterranean. Coalition forces are targeting anti-aircraft and missile sites controlled by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

U.S. President Obama, who was in Brazil for trade discussions, talked about the discussion to take military action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The use of force is not our first choice and 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Take a look now at this map. This gives you an idea of where the coalition strikes were aimed. Also, the areas of the no-fly zone the coalition planes are patrolling. The main areas of interest are Benghazi, that's the heart of the opposition movement and, of course, the capital of Tripoli.

Also, moments ago, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi addressed his people and addressed the world, saying all of Libya will revolt and wipe out the aggressors from the United States, Britain and France.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER (through translator): We will be victorious. We will achieve victory on behalf of the people. We have Allah with us. You have the devil on your side.

What right have you got to attack our people? Who gave you that right? Who are you? You backward, barbarics. This is an aggression that has no justification, this is -- this atrocity. We are -- we will hold to our land, to our rights. We will fight inch by inch. This land has been stained with the blood of our people, our leaders, our forefathers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Now take a lock at images being broadcast on Libyan state TV. Libyan government claims the strikes killed numerous civilians. In a statement, they said the victims were mostly women, children and religious clerics. They put the death toll at around 50. But there is no way for us to independently confirm those statements -- Richard.

QUEST: Major targets on the coalition raid near Tripoli, the capital, and Moammar Gadhafi's power base -- we heard some of what's going on there a moment ago. And some of that coming from CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson who joins me now live from Tripoli.

And we need to start with this morning's and today's events. Nic, are you still hearing anti aircraft fire there?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Richard, we're not. That subsided in the night after the missile attacks started around 2:30, 2:40 in the morning. Now, it's -- the city sounds quite quiet. You can hear traffic out on the roads. But, certainly, no sounds of missiles or gunfire -- Richard.

QUEST: And the Libyan claims about mass civilian casualties. I understand -- it's obvious, it's very difficult to get independent confirmation. But how likely is that claim?

ROBERTSON: It's hard to say. Certainly, the targets that we've been told about were military targets. That's what we've seen in the past, in other conflicts. But there's always the possibility of collateral damage, of civilian casualties.

Last night, Moammar Gadhafi's state television showed pictures of people protecting -- as state television called it -- protecting certain sites, the palace compound not far from where we are. We went over there and there were certainly more than 1,000 people actually clustered and climbing around that very fist -- golden fist clutching the American fighter aircraft, crushing that American fighter aircraft that you can see during the speech Moammar was giving on television. They were at the international airport. They were at another airport in Libya.

So, if people had been around some of the other potential sites that weren't covered by state television, then obviously, it is possible. What we saw on state television through the night about an hour after the bombings around Tripoli, we saw some army officers in a hospital with doctors visiting some wounded men, who seem to be of military age. A couple appeared to have green olive uniforms, on military uniforms, some of them were quite seriously injured. One appeared to have a very serious head wound. Other had lighter wounds.

They were saying that they still supported Moammar Gadhafi. One of them saying, niya, niya (ph), which means 100 percent, 100 percent, essentially slang for, you know, 100 percent support for Moammar Gadhafi. Another saying, we will be victorious.

So, the pictures on state television also included bodies, 12 bodies wrapped in white shrouds. But, so far, pictures they have shown are military age men, Richard.

QUEST: All right. Briefly, Nic, how would you gauge the mood has shifted in Tripoli now that the bombing has begun?

ROBERTSON: Well, I would say it shifted quite firmly, and the elements that we see, which are certainly with the pro-government elements. They shifted quite firmly against the international community and to the point of sort of government type rallies, if you will, against the journalists. We're told the people last night here, who believe that the international journalists are spreading lies. And they only watch state television because that's the only thing they believe.

So, I would say the mood that we detect is stiffening and resolving behind Moammar Gadhafi. And I think what is interesting about his speech today is this is a man who's absolutely not afraid of television cameras, not afraid of being seen on television, not afraid of talking to crowds and rallying them and being seen as a leader, not afraid of being seen.

The speech, we don't see him.

QUEST: Right. ROBERTSON: We see that golden fist crushing the U.S. fighter jet. Rather, it gives the impression he doesn't want to give any clues where he is, Richard.

QUEST: Nic Robertson in the Libyan capital of Tripoli this morning -- thank you.

HOLMES: Well, the United States is playing a major part in Operation Odyssey Dawn. Several American ships and submarines were launching pads for those cruise missiles aimed at critical targets inside Libya.

CNN's Sandra Endo at the Pentagon for us today.

Sandra, hello to you. We have seen in particular France take the lead when it comes to fighter jets and aircraft being in the skies above Libya. Are we getting any word when U.S. airplanes might be playing more of a vital role in this mission?

SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, T.J. New this morning, we can tell you that 19 U.S. warplanes were involved in an overnight strike operation. This is according to the U.S. command in Africa. And involved in the operation, we understand, are three B-2 stealth bombers, four Marine Corps Harrier jets, which were launched off the USS Kearsarge, four U.S. Air Force F-15s, and eight U.S. Air Force F-16s as well.

So, this is a major new offensive in this operation. As we understand right now, no more cruise missiles were launched overnight. Now, as you know, this is day two of this operation, which the mission is to basically get rid of and disable Libya's air defense system. So, clearly, this is step two of what we saw on Saturday where American and British ships and submarines fired more than 110 Tomahawk missiles.

And Pentagon officials say about 20 Libyan targets were, in fact, hit. They are also assessing the damages right now and this is all basically the targets were on the western portion along the coast of Libya.

Now, we're hearing from Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, defiant words, saying that they will respond to this, quote, "naked aggression" and this will be a long, drawn-out war. Despite the tough talk, President Obama, T.J., said yesterday that he believes the U.S. involvement will be limited and last only a few days -- T.J.

HOLMES: Sandra, back to those U.S. warplanes involved, what has been their primary function? As we can understand, of course, they could either be patrolling the skies, trying to enforce that no-fly zone or they could be used to actually strike some of those targets on the ground? Do we have a good handle on exactly what they had been doing?

ENDO: We're not exactly sure what kind of ammunition and, in fact, what kind of artillery they used overnight in these strikes. We know that the mission, though, keep in mind, is to really disable these air defense systems. They want to ensure that this no-fly zone will be safe, that other missions involved will make sure that these military -- not just the U.S., but also coalition forces, will be safe to fly over. So, clearly, that is the main target.

They are also thinking about trying to disable communications as well on the ground in Libya.

Now, you're talking about a leader who is basically savvy and is trying to move a lot of his resources and force it into major cities. Now, again, the U.S. and coalition forces do not want to target, of course, innocent civilians. So, that will be also a challenge, looking ahead.

HOLMES: All right. Sandra Endo for us from the Pentagon today -- Sandra, we appreciate you as always. Thank you -- Richard.

QUEST: Thank you, T.J.

His defiance led to military strikes against his country. Now, the Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is criticizing Arab leaders for doing nothing to stop it. We will get reaction from the Arab world, straight ahead. This is CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Now, these are pictures of the sky over Tripoli a few hours ago. Now, we heard the blasts of anti-aircraft fire. There were the explosions on the ground and the familiar sight of tracer fire going into the sky.

CNN's correspondents as you would expect are monitoring the situation not only in Libya, in various places, but also in other parts of the Arab world and globally, to keep you updated on the latest developments -- T.J.

HOLMES: Richard, Operation Odyssey Dawn is the biggest military action in the Middle East since the U.S. invasion of Iraq some eight years ago. But this is a little different. The U.N. intervention here in Libya is backed by the Arab League.

CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom is live in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi, and CNN's Reza Sayah is live for us in Cairo, Egypt.

Reza, I want to start with you. They saw their uprising -- their own uprising there in Egypt not too terribly long ago. How are they viewing thing there in Egypt as they watch their neighbor have uprising of its own, but, still, now, here comes military and international intervention into that conflict?

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the streets of Egypt there, is broad support for this no-fly zone, as long as it's designed to end bloodshed and end the loss of innocent civilians. As far as Egyptian military itself goes, they have taken an active role in the last 24 hours in the implementation of this no-fly zone and they have been one of very few Arab nations who had come out and said unequivocally, yes, we support this no-fly zone, but don't look for to us to take part in the implementation of it.

At this point, it's really not clear if any Arab nation is going to take an active role or if it's going to be a symbolic role. Even so, you see the U.S., France, the U.K., over the past 24 hours, make every effort to convey to the world -- emphasize to the world that this is not a Western-only operation against Libya -- that this is a broad-based coalition, including Arab nations that are taking part in this no-fly zone.

But, again, if you look at the past 24 hours, and it's been a very aggressive start in the implementation of this no-fly zone, you've seen the absence of any active role on the part of any Arab nations. Yesterday, we heard U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton named a number of Arab nations who took part in a summit in Paris. But when asked what role they're going to play, Secretary Clinton responded that (INAUDIBLE) those countries themselves do next.

HOLMES: All right. I want to turn -- Reza, turn now to Mohammed Jamjoom. He is in, like I just mentioned, Abu Dhabi for us.

Mohammed, good to have you with us today. You heard Reza there talked about kind of just symbolically supporting that no-fly zone. Is that the kind of the sense you're getting as well, that many of these Arab states may not really -- necessarily really get their hands and get dirty, if you will, into this conflict in Libya?

MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, T.J., we're still trying to sort all of that out (AUDIO BREAK), the GCC, the Gulf Cooperation Council, they are very tight-lipped bunch. And they haven't really given a lot of indication exactly of what they're going to do, what role they will play.

But we do know that the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have said that they would take part in this force. Now, we have not been able to reach officials here to find out when that will be or where planes will be based or what they will be doing.

But I spoke to some military analysts yesterday and today, they indicated that they believe that the UAE is fully capable of sending planes, that they've been trained by the U.K. and France, and U.S. They could certainly support the operation. They also said they believe Qatar as well, but they believe they would play a smaller role, possibly more humanitarian and aid in this no-fly zone enforcement -- T.J.

HOLMES: What is the risk for Qatar and any other Arab nation to play that kind of active role and to send their own warplanes to patrol over the skies and even possibly strike some targets in Libya?

JAMJOOM: Well, the thing that's different about Qatar and the UAE when you're talking about them possibly taking part in this and the risk is you're not seeing mass protests movements in those two countries, in the UAE or in Qatar. You're not seeing the kind of protest you've seen in Saudi Arabia or other GCC countries.

So, also, the GCC and the Arab League came out quite early and they said, you know, they backed a no-fly zone being implemented. They backed the creations of it. And all the leaders here, they are not friendly towards Gadhafi.

So, right now, what you are seeing play out also in the Arab media is really support for this, you know? And that's not a surprise because the Arab leaders have said that they are supporting a no-fly zone and because it started. So, what you're seeing being reported is strictly, this is what's going on.

It's interesting because you have monarchs here supporting an action that really seems to be behind rebels in that country that are trying to take out a dictator. How that's going to play out in the long term? We're not sure. But right now, everybody here is firmly behind it -- T.J.

HOLMES: All right. Mohammed Jamjoom for us in Abu Dhabi, also thanks to our Reza Sayah, reporting live for us from Cairo, Egypt -- Richard.

QUEST: Many thanks, T.J.

It just after 12:00 midday in Libya at the moment. And on a Sunday, we need to hear from people in the various parts of the country.

And an eyewitness joins me now on the line from Misrata. There is report of gunfire at his location. For obvious reasons, we're not naming who we are about to talk to.

But let's just test the connection first so we can hear each other.

Can you hear me, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via telephone): Yes, I can, Richard. Yes.

QUEST: Thank you. Good morning to you. Well, good afternoon.

And what are you experiencing? What noise, what gunfire? Is anything taking place?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Misrata is being razed to the ground, sir. Very, very heavy shelling. We hear even new sounds. It seems like cluster bombs -- very, very heavy artillery.

The Gadhafi military is firing on the city from all directions and they are trying to hit and they have managed to hit some public installations in the name of some fuel stations and a power station, and they have tried to hit the port of Misrata and a big industrial installation, the iron and steel factory.

They are trying to give the international community strikes a bad name, saying that they have stricken and have strike public installations and civilians.

And Misrata is being razed to the ground as we speak. QUEST: So, when I spoke yesterday, we knew that there was Gadhafi trips on the outskirts. There were some shootings. But what are you suggesting this morning or not suggesting -- you are saying outright there, is that there is a massive escalation today in the bombardment of Misrata?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely. Absolutely. Massive -- they are going all out to destroy Misrata. He is lashing out big time.

QUEST: OK. But then, what's the purpose of that? We know Benghazi remains in rebel stronghold control. So, what's the purpose of this attack per se, if you like, on Misrata?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is prosecuting the people of Misrata. He is going all out to destroy it, and he's trying to make it look like that the international forces are hitting civilians. (AUDIO BREAK)

QUEST: Right.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- at the expense of the people of Misrata.

QUEST: OK. Now, is there any evidence that you can see of allied coalition forces or air raids or any form of activity fighting back against the Gadhafi forces this morning?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we heard the strikes. The missiles that landed in the (INAUDIBLE), that's the station where the Gadhafi militias are stationed. We heard heavy bombardment last night. And the people were heartened and relieved to see those strikes.

But he is going all-out to destroy Misrata now. We called up on the international community to take urgent action and (AUDIO BREAK) these troops and take them out.

QUEST: OK. Thank you, sir. We'll talk to you again in the hours ahead -- one of the residents of Misrata, who for obvious reasons we're not identifying this morning. And we'll catch up and find out more in the hours ahead.

Now, as we continue our coverage, there's, of course, another major story that CNN is in detailed coverage of -- the long road ahead in Japan. Well, they're still cleaning up after the earthquake and tsunami that devastated parts of the country. They're fighting to prevent a nuclear meltdown, and the number of dead and missing just passed 20,000.

We'll take you to Japan after the break. This is CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: We do want to turn to what we have been watching in Japan and the round-the-clock efforts to prevent a complete nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant. There is some good news to report today. It doesn't seem like there's been a whole lot of that. But we do have some. The pressure in nuclear reactor number three has stabilized. Workers had planned to reduce pressure by releasing -- intentionally releasing radioactive gas, but now, they may not have to -- at least that's we're being told for now is the case.

The number three reactor is one of six where workers are struggling to prevent a meltdown. The March 11th tsunami knocked out the plant's cooling systems.

Every day now in this disaster brings a new human toll from the quake and the tsunami. The latest for you now: more than 8,200 dead. More than 12,000 -- excuse me, 1,200 missing. Those numbers surely expected to rise -- again, 12,000 still missing. And police in one area say there may be up to 15,000 more bodies in that one region alone.

The government says it will decide Monday whether to ban the consumption and shipment of agricultural products from the area near the plant. Abnormally high levels of radiation have been found in spinach and milk from near the plant -- Richard.

QUEST: Relieving the pressure in the reactor three at the Fukushima plant means there won't be nuclear gas released for now at least. The question, of course, remains: is that going to hold?

CNN's Brian Todd is in Tokyo today, following developments at the nuclear plant and Brian joins me now.

As we look at those plants and getting the cooling system working again, whether it's the new pumps or the pumping of the water from fire engines, is the situation stabilizing?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I don't think you can say that, Richard. It's just too inconsistent to call it stable right now. That number three reactor has been just too problematic for too long now since the tsunami hit.

Right now, they are monitoring it. The pressure as you and T.J. just mentioned has been alleviated naturally. And so, they didn't have to open up any holes in the thing to let some of that pressure out, which would have, of course, let some hydrogen gas possibly out, possibly some radioactive material there. That would have been a bad situation, but it would have relieved the pressure.

And the pressure, as you said, did stabilize, receded. So, they don't have to do that for now. But that could change at any moment.

That particular reactor, number three, is where the exposed fuel rods are. It's the reactor that's been really heating up and they've scrambled to try to cool that thing down. Yesterday, we got some good news that those continuous, you know, piping in of the seawater they have been doing through the fire trucks had worked yesterday, had cooled the building down. They had near-zero levels of radiation detected at some point yesterday. Now, that was good news. But, again, you know, right after that, the pressure went up. So, that particular reactor, number three, is a real problem. I wouldn't say by any means it has completely stabilized yet.

QUEST: And one report I heard overnight suggested that they could end up with these makeshift pumping arrangements using the fire trucks and other methods. This could last for some weeks if not longer. Has anybody given any credence to that thought?

TODD: You know, they don't really talk about timetables here, because I think, you know, they don't really want to get people kind of in a mindset to train that far ahead on this thing.

But you're right, Richard. I mean, they're - they're trying all sorts of different methods. One of the things they're using to pump water - sea water into this thing is a - is a large - is a truck that has a large crane on it. It's the same mechanism that they use to - to try to put out fires in skyscrapers. They are literally, you know, trying to bring in any possible innovation here, but they're not really projecting when they think this thing is going to be stabilized. And, again, it's really all focused on that Number Three reactor.

We did get some good news and that there was electricity that was actually hooked up successfully to the Number Two reactor. And when electricity is hooked up successfully, they might be able to pump in water using that. So that's a positive thing to try and get some electricity hooked up to the other reactors and that would really go a long way towards stabilizing this thing.

QUEST: In Tokyo, CNN's Brian Todd, thank you.

HOLMES: France and Britain taking a lead role in the air strikes against Libya. We'll go to Paris coming up next for more on the European reaction to the international communities' efforts to cripple Moammar Gadhafi.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Now, the coalition military might being brought to bear on Libya and the defiant regime of Moammar Gadhafi. It's been dubbed Operation Odyssey Dawn. The main components right now are American and British cruise missiles and coalition airplanes. But the bulk of more than 100 missiles fired strategic targets in Libya came from U.S. Navy warships and submarines in the Mediterranean. Coalition forces are targeting anti-aircraft missile sites controlled by Moammar Gadhafi.

Also, take a look at this map now. This gives you an idea of where the coalition strikes were aimed. The main areas of interest are Benghazi, that's the heart of the opposition movement as well as the capital of Tripoli.

Also, moments ago, the Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi, he addressed his people, addressed the world saying all of Libya will revolt and wipe out the aggressors from the United States, Britain and France. Take a listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER (through translator): This is an aggression that has no justification. This is - this monstrosity. We are - we will hold to our land, to our rights. We will fight inch by inch.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

HOLMES: Now, take a look at the images being broadcast on Libyan State television. The Libyan government claiming the strikes killed numerous civilians. In a statement they said the victims were mostly women, children and religious leaders. They put the death toll at around 50.

But as I now bring back in my colleague from CNN International in London this morning, Richard Quest. Richard, as we know, it is pretty much impossible to confirm some of those numbers and some of the images we are seeing right now.

QUEST: Yes. And T.J., I'm just getting some information now about the U.K. military forces that were deployed.

CNN's Jim Baldwin is telling us that there were four British tornadoes that participated in the activity. They left from the U.K. and it was an eight-hour round trip journey from the U.K. to Libya and back. They were refueled and more than 60 tons of fuel were - was discharged during that operation. It's believed by the military that this is the - the British military that this is the furthest that they have flown in action since the Falklands War in the 1980s.

Now, the decisions to launch military strike against Libya came after the high-level meetings in Paris on Saturday. There, the world leaders laid out the plan to enforce U.N. Resolution 1973, which authorized the use of force and called for a cease-fire and no-fly zone. Partners from the EU are now playing a major role in the enforcement.

Senior international correspondent Jim Bittermann is in Paris for us today, joins me now. Jim, they were very quick, particularly the French, off the mark news, sooner virtually had the meeting ended then their planes were in the sky.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in fact, Richard, they were in the sky before the meeting started. The reconnaissance aircraft took off about two hours before the meeting even started yesterday, took off from French bases, so it took them a while to get over Libya.

But, basically, they did the same thing the Brits did, which is as they fly from French bases. Now, however, they're rebasing some of those aircrafts down in Corsica, which will make the round trips a lot shorter. They'll be able to do what apparently is going to be the French role, not really going very specific about this over the Defense Ministry. But basically it looks like the French role is going to be close air support around the Benghazi area, taking out any kind of artillery or armored vehicles that appear over there like then - and appear likely to attack in Benghazi.

This morning, according to reports from various news agencies, there were some burned out vehicles along the main road out of Benghazi and it appeared to have been perhaps multiple launched rocket - multiple rocket launcher type of vehicles that were destroyed. It's unclear, but the French have said that they have destroyed a number of Libyan army vehicles - Richard.

QUEST: Jim, the United States has made it clear, Hillary Clinton, President Obama, that they will be involved in this and they will put - they will throw U.S. assets and resources, but they do not want the leadership role as such. They're not leading the way.

Does that mean that the Europeans, particularly the French, are in a position to take that leadership?

BITTERMANN: Well, I think they already took it, Richard, actually. Because I think that from the very beginning here, the French have been out in front of this and the Brits came in right behind, basically with the idea that they thought something should be done. They insisted something should be done.

And the Washington, at first, was recalcitrant and from what I've read, it basically was a change of heart by Hillary Clinton that convinced Obama to go ahead and go along with this growing movement that then was solidified yesterday with the meetings here.

In fact, it was all put together very quickly. I mean, so quickly that I don't think French public opinion, for example, was adequately prepared for this. A lot of people I think have been caught off guard with the extent to which the French military has been involved. And like I say, even the military were flying these planes off bases from France rather than bases down in parts - of course, part of France, but from the southern bases like Corsica, where they would have been a lot closer to the scenes of the action - Richard.

QUEST: Jim Bittermann, who is in the French capital of Paris, thank you.

Now, the U.S. and its allies threw an awesome arsenal of military assets against Libya over the past 24 hours. When we come back in a moment, an in-depth look at the Libyan targets that's in the crosshairs. This is CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

QUEST: Back to the situation in Libya, where we are hearing that American warplanes are taking part in operations over Libya right now, and that includes stealth bombers which are attacking critical targets inside the country.

CNN's chief national correspondent John King takes a closer look at how the Operation Odyssey Dawn started and crucially why specific targets have been chosen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is called Operation Odyssey Dawn, and the initial targets, mostly along the northern Libyan coastline. Why? Well, those, of course, are the major cities, the major oil gas installations and, of course, the political capital, Tripoli.

But the reasons 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 circle, 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, they 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 of 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 operations 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, 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 on the sub, but that is an option that could be used heading forward.

Now, 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 any troops including Marines go ashore. Command the control ship and that would (ph) be very important in the early days of the operation, and an amphibious transport docked upon 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. And 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. And when 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.

And 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 United Arab Emirates to use their air force to help enforce that no-fly zone over Libya.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Now, we want to bring you a development that we are just getting in here at the CNN. According to AFP, that's a news source. They are saying that at least 94 people have been killed in that assault that was launched on the rebel stronghold City of Benghazi. We were telling you about what was happening in Benghazi. Much of it was playing out live here on the air on CNN yesterday with our reporter there reporting not too far from Benghazi, calling this an assault that Gadhafi forces launched on that rebel stronghold.

Well, according to AFP, 94 people were killed in an assault over the last couple of days. This, they are getting from people who work at the hospitals in that area, but correspondents from AFP reporting that at least 94 people killed. We are working to get confirmation of that number.

Very difficult as you can imagine to get accurate reporting in some of those areas, trying to move around in some of those areas. But our reporters, of course, we do have our resources and our reporters there on the ground working to confirm some of this information.

We do want to talk strategy with what's going on right now with the no-fly zone and these strikes we've been seeing. We want to talk about it with Retired U.S. Military General Wesley Clark, a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and Current Senior Fellow at the Burkle Center for International Relations. He's joining us from Little Rock, Arkansas. General, good to have you with us. Let's start with that - with what we just heard. That report of 94 people killed in Benghazi.

Is there so much - is there only so much that air strikes and a no-fly zone can do? Is there so much - only so much the coalition will be able to do to protect citizens from the air?

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, there are limits probably. But we haven't hit those limits yet.

As we understand it, this strike on Benghazi, this was probably a reconnaissance probe, there's probably an advanced element of Gadhafi's forces. Because as we recall that we were first hearing that the forces were stationary, about 60 miles west of Benghazi. The next thing we knew, there were tanks that were coming into Benghazi, probably a reconnaissance element. That would be the Soviet - old Soviet doctrine, which we believe the Libyans were trained in.

Say we would have put a reconnaissance probe into Benghazi, either the tanks got knocked out or they pulled back or some (INAUDIBLE), it wasn't a serious sustained effort. And it was after that effort began that the French came in and struck the Libyan tanks, and so thus far, we're not hearing of more conflict in Benghazi today. And so thus far, that French action was successful in dissuading an attack at least in the early morning hours of Sunday.

HOLMES: Yes. So far here in Benghazi, again, that was a place of much action over the past two days as we know before these air strikes by the coalition began.

Also, are you seeing this play out with this no-fly zone and the strikes that have been taking place? Is this how it works? You take out those targets you have identified. You step back and you do an assessment and then are they deciding right now what they need to go back in and hit again?

CLARK: Well, they are collecting information and they've got - they want to figure out whether they've taken down all of the long ranged, high-speed missiles like the SA-5s so they can put up unmanned aerial vehicles overhead with - and fly with impunity over Libyan air space. That way they can have eyes on the ground and electronic intelligence continuously from over Libyan air space to supplement other overhead assets and what's coming off the ships and of NATO AWACS.

And so we want to get a complete reconnaissance picture. So they are looking at it. They're watching it this morning. They can make another round of strikes during the day today, if that's taken down, or they may wait until eight hours of darkness to make another round of strikes.

But meanwhile, should action take place around Benghazi, I'm sure the French are going to be prepared to go back in there as they did yesterday, even before the complete no-fly zone is put into place by - by the coalition.

HOLMES: General, do you have any kind of timetable in your own mind of how much - I guess a clock that might be ticking down for how much time you need to take to take out Gadhafi's forces and those - and some of those specific targets there before he is able to regroup or at least have the appearance of having some kind of a victory to the world community?

CLARK: Well, most of these radar sites and missile sites are fixed. Some are mobile. The fixed sites, you can hit them again and again and they should be gone and actually maybe one more round of strikes. Then it depends on what degree of risk you're willing to take. If he has mobile assets, the mobile assets can be effective from 20,000 to 30,000 feet in altitude above the battlefield. So they would still constitute a risk, particularly if they're able to displace the radar from the acquiring missile, which can be done in some cases with advanced fiber optics technology.

And so it's a little bit of a cat and mouse game. It's - we're not quite sure everything he might have, and he's not quite sure everything we might do, and so we start with the no-risk measures like the Tomahawk missiles and we gradually escalate the risks. A day, two days, three days at most, and I suspect we'll be flying completely with impunity over Libya.

HOLMES: All right. General Wesley Clark, always good to have your expertise. He'll be with us here for the next several hours as we continue our breaking coverage of what's happening in Libya. General, we appreciate you. Thank you so much.

A quick break here on CNN and we are right back.

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QUEST: Now to Japan, and Ken Tanaka is a CNN iReporter in Yokohama. When the earthquake and the tsunami struck, he shot video of the disaster as it happened. And Ken joins us live from Kyoto. And Ken, it's been several days obviously since the disaster, so we need to check in with you and see how you're doing.

KEN TANAKA, IREPORTER: Well, all is well now. Obviously, the ripple effect is starting to affect a lot of Japan outside of the affected areas. For instance, even in Kyoto, which is 500 miles away, we're starting to feel the effects of no food, also shortage of gas, batteries are sold out. Toiletries are sold out. And even my cousin runs a bed and breakfast, there are a lot of people canceling their reservations to visit Japan at the moment, so -

QUEST: Right. And when these aftershocks and there have been more than a thousand of these aftershocks, when they hit, obviously that just continues the disturbance and the terror for you?

TANAKA: Right. That's - one of the main reasons I left Yokohama Region, it's kind of hard to keep your mind off things, when, I mean, on top of all of these things that I just mentioned that you're feeling aftershocks, you know, literally every 10 minutes, you know? And some of them are pretty severe. I mean, literally 6.0s, legitimate earthquake, you know.

So, a couple times I had my - my foundation was literally, you know, cracked and my apartment is kind of to the side, which -

QUEST: Right, right.

TANAKA: -- it doesn't make me feel any safer in my apartment.

QUEST: Ken, many thanks for joining us this morning from Kyoto. Ken Tanaka joining us now - T.J.

HOLMES: Well, Richard, the Libyan people as we know caught now in the middle of Operation Odyssey Dawn. We will hear the very latest as our Special Coverage continues.

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