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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

America Strikes Back: Afghanistan Bombings, Humanitarian Flights, and Propaganda War Begin

Aired October 8, 2001 - 05:33   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: But in the meantime, here now are the latest developments that we've got here on the war on terrorism. Now you're among the first now to see CNN exclusive footage of the damage this morning in Afghanistan. You're seeing here video that we've gotten in by videophone now. We're being told that there are some casualties, hard to tell from these pictures here, but at this hour that's all we know. We're being told that, nothing has been seen. A senior Taliban official says that the regime's command system and the radar at the Kandahar airport were destroyed.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld confirms the first in a series of humanitarian airdrops to help feed the starving Afghan refugees is a success. Enough food was dropped for 37,500 people. The U.S. spent some $25 million on this first round of rations.

In the meantime, U.S. airmen are coming back in from their missions. In a conference call arranged by the Pentagon, the unnamed crewmen said that they are proud to have taken part in the mission. One says the mission wasn't even as hard as a typical training day has been for them.

Now let's go to the Pentagon and get the very latest. Our Brian Cabell is keeping duty there this morning.

Brian, I'm sure you heard what -- the report that we just got this morning moments ago here on that exclusive coverage we had of the Taliban's press conference. What are you hearing about whether or not any planes have been shot down?

BRIAN CABELL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Leon, what we heard last night was that there were no planes shot down, there were no casualties. We are waiting for a further update, a damage assessment. We should get that within the next two hours from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. By that time, they will have analyzed data from spy planes and surveillance satellites.

In any case, we are told that this bombing will continue for at least a few days longer. Rumsfeld said the allies had no choice but to attack yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD RUMSFELD, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The only way to deal with these terrorist threats is to go at them where they exist. You cannot defend at every place at every time against every conceivable, imaginable, even unimaginable terrorist attack. And the only way to deal with it is to take the battle to where they are and to root them out and to starve them out by seeing that those countries and those organizations and those non-governmental organizations and those individuals that are supporting and hiring -- harboring and facilitating these networks stop doing it and find that there's a penalty for doing it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABELL: The attacks lasted about six hours -- 25 strike aircraft were involved, 15 bombers, 50 cruise missiles. And again, no word of any planes being lost. The targets included surface-to-air missiles, airfields, aircraft, radar sites, terrorist camps, Taliban troop concentrations.

They talked to the pilots afterwards, they talked to a number of reporters and you could say their moods were enthusiastic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

"VINNY," U.S. AIR FORCE OFFENSIVE SYSTEMS OFFICER: I felt very proud. It's like being a football player at Super Bowl day, you know you're there to do a job and you want everybody to be there behind you. And we had public support, good leadership, good -- the enlisted troops were there behind us waving flags and it was a great feeling. Wish everyone could experience it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABELL: One of the pilots said on the nose cone of his B-52 he wrote the words "NYPD, We Remember."

Also humanitarian flights, as we just heard, a couple of C-17s flown in from Germany dropped about 37,000 packets of food for the Afghan people.

Also the propaganda war has started. Broadcasts now from the psychological operations folks and also leaflets being dropped essentially saying that this war is not aimed at the Afghan people, it's aimed at the terrorists and at the Taliban -- Leon.

HARRIS: Remains to be seen whether or not that message has been accepted but we'll find out about that in the hours to come.

Brian Cabell at the Pentagon, thanks.

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