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Rym Brahimi: 'Strange peacefulness' in Baghdad

CNN's Rym Brahimi
CNN's Rym Brahimi

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Hours after the United States launched missile attacks on Baghdad on Thursday, CNN Correspondent Rym Brahimi talked about the situation in the Iraqi capital with CNN anchors Carol Costello and Leon Harris.

Brahimi filed this report Thursday morning.

BRAHIMI: ... From where we are now, ... [there's] a very strange peacefulness, superficial air of peacefulness I might add, that's sort of floating above the city of Baghdad at this time. It's a very hazy day as well. You can't see much in the sky, a very gray morning indeed.

And now inhabitants will have been woken up, if they slept at all, by this, just before sunrise, by this first air raid siren at about 5:30 a.m. There was the sound from antiaircraft. There was a lull for a few minutes. There was an intense round of antiaircraft fire again and then an explosion.

Now it's almost 2 in the afternoon here, and that's also usually a very busy time of day, people usually busy rushing. It's rush hour usually on a normal day, and there's so much traffic. People are rushing back from work usually to get home on -- in time for lunch. Well definitely this is not the case [Thursday].

We're seeing Iraqi TV making a point that things are normal, things are functioning. A speech from President Saddam Hussein, who spoke to the Iraqi people a couple of hours after the first air raid siren, making a point of mentioning the day in which he was speaking, the 20th of March, saying that this was a criminal attack launched by President Bush. And now the Iraqi programs have resumed. The news is on, a lot of programs showing file pictures of President Saddam Hussein. Basically, the state-run media is saying the government is still here.

COSTELLO: Rym, when you were watching that broadcast and Saddam Hussein was on, could you tell if it was taped or live?

BRAHIMI: Carol, President Saddam Hussein rarely has ever really made live appearances on Iraqi TV. You know even in the past year or so that I've been in Baghdad, many of his -- all his addresses in fact that he's made for the Iraqi nation on the days marking celebrations, marking the end of the Iran-Iraq War, for instance, or the day of revolution of the ruling Baath Party, for instance -- well they're all pre-taped addresses to the nation.

And this was no exception, except that maybe this one was, of course, coming at the moment of heightened tension, a much more critical time and a time where he made a point of again mentioning the date of which he was talking, the 20th of March -- so the morning -- the morning in which these first attacks took place.

COSTELLO: Rym, have you heard anything from Iraqi officials about casualties or damage?

BRAHIMI: Carol, we're just hearing that there have been a few casualties. There have been a number of casualties. This from Iraqi officials from the Ministry of Information. However, they haven't given us any details for now as to how many and where those casualties are, where these casualties took place. Basically we're expecting to hear shortly from Iraq's minister of information.

He spoke early on [Thursday] morning to reporters. And he actually told reporters that he wanted to show the world -- and he was asking journalists to show the world what he called the crimes of the U.S. and Britain. And he said, 'We will take you everywhere, and you can show the world."

Now we understand that journalists are being invited later on to a tour of Baghdad, from what we understand, again from Ministry of Information officials. They want to show journalists around to some of the places that may have been hit.


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