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Clark: Quick victory 'not going to happen'

Central Command: Coalition 'certain of the outcome'

Retired U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark
Retired U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark

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(CNN) -- The scenario of a quick coalition victory in Iraq is "not going to happen," according to retired U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark, a CNN analyst and former NATO supreme allied commander.

"The simple fact is that the liberation didn't quite occur. They didn't uprise," Clark said Tuesday night.

Clark said that more than a quarter of coalition troops are "tied up in a messy fight in Basra."

British troops have gathered outside Basra after Iraqi paramilitary forces retreated into the southern Iraqi city.

An apparent local uprising began Tuesday, and the troops are prepared to assist civilians to attack the military regime once the scope and scale of the rebellion is determined, according to British military officials.

Clark said another significant portion of coalition troops are fighting in Nasiriya, where Marines seized a hospital on the third consecutive day of fighting. "We've got logistics problems," Clark said.

A U.S. official told CNN on Wednesday that the U.S. military may have underestimated the strength of the Saddam Fedayeen and other paramilitary groups operating in southern Iraq.

U.S. Central Command spokesman Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks said in a briefing Wednesday in Qatar that the resistance from Iraqis "doesn't change our timeline."

"We've never said that this would be an easy operation," Brooks said, adding that the coalition remained "certain of the outcome."

Clark said that Turkey's "failure to permit the 4th Infantry Division to go through was a significant problem, not an insignificant problem."

Turkey has allowed coalition forces to use its airspace but denied access to ground troops that were to move through the country into northern Iraq.

U.S. Central Command announced that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's command and control capabilities had been destroyed, along with the national television station, a key telecom vault and a group of buildings housing Baghdad Satellite Communications.

But just hours after the command report, local broadcast of the TV station resumed Wednesday.

Clark predicted before transmission resumed that it may take several attempts to knock the station off the air completely.

"It's probably redundant, so there's probably another set of mobile antennas that they will erect," Clark said. "They'll probably try to get a weakened signal back out, at least once or twice."

Gen. Wesley Clark was NATO supreme allied commander from 1997 to May 2000. He was also the commander in chief of the U.S. European Command. In 1999, he commanded Operation Allied Force, NATO's military action in the Kosovo crisis. Clark later wrote about his experiences in "Waging Modern War." He is one of CNN's military analysts, along with retired Brig. Gen. David Grange and retired Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd. Their briefings will appear daily on CNN.com.

EDITOR'S NOTE: CNN's policy is to not report information that puts operational security at risk.


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