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Brent Sadler: U.S. says camp has bioweapons clues

CNN correspondent Brent Sadler
CNN correspondent Brent Sadler

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CNN's Brent Sadler reports on U.S. Special Forces and Kurdish fighters working together in northern Iraq to battle Ansar al-Islam, a group linked to al Qaeda. (April 1)
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NORTHEASTERN IRAQ (CNN) CNN correspondent Brent Sadler, accompanying U.S. paratroopers in a Kurdish-controlled region of Iraq near the border of Iran, spoke with CNN anchor Bill Hemmer on Tuesday about the latest war developments there.

HEMMER: Brent joins us again from the northeastern part of the country, where there appears to be critical information based on what's coming out of ... what used to be a terrorist training camp for Ansar Al Islam. Brent, good afternoon.

SADLER: Good afternoon to you, Bill. I'm standing amid the rubble of what U.S. special force commanders and Kurdish fighters say was the very heart of Ansar Al Islam, a terrorist organization with direct links, it's claimed, by U.S. forces on the ground, to al Qaeda.

U.S. forces say they have found amidst the rubble here and other locations documents and equipment that will "indicate the presence of chemical or biological weapons." That information is being sent back to the United States for closer examination and analysis.

A quick look around at where I'm standing -- This is the mosque ... You see the damage there by coalition air strikes in the dome on that mosque, peppered with pieces of shrapnel.

Unavoidable damage, say Kurdish officials on the ground, who say they had to root out this terrorist stronghold throughout the 250-square mile area, well dug-in, well-entrenched.

There was ferocious fighting for 36 hours. Now the Kurdish fighters themselves, about 10,000 of them, linked for the first time in the battlefield with U.S. special forces. This is what special forces had to say about the competence of the local elements they fought with here on the ground:

(Videotape)

SPECIAL FORCES REPRESENTATIVE: I think it's an outstanding example of what special forces train for in the United States, unconventional warfare, working with an indigenous force to add to their capabilities and add assistance and advice where we can.

This, to put this in perspective, this was a division-scale attack against about a brigade-minus sized force on well-entrenched, difficult terrain. And I would say that they did it in a more rapid fashion than most armies of the world would.

(End of videotape)

SADLER: Praise indeed. This also begs the question that if American and Kurdish forces can work so well on the ground here, then why not expand operations to break Saddam Hussein's hold over the key northern cities of Kirkuk and Mosul? There is no plan for that right now. But Kurdish forces here are certainly pushing for that to happen. Back to you, Bill.

HEMMER: Brent, thank you. Brent Sadler in northeastern Iraq.

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


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