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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

America Strikes Back: Taliban Defenses Damaged in Strikes

Aired October 9, 2001 - 05:24   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.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: U.S.-led military struck through the night in Afghanistan, and for the first time, they struck during daylight hours.

We are working with a journalist who is inside of Afghanistan, and, in fact, he is in eastern Afghanistan -- Kamal Hyder joins us by the telephone this morning.

Kamal, you're getting reports from around the country of the impact of these strikes. What do you know right now?

KAMAL HYDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, one thing is for certain: They have basically caused considerable damage to the Taliban anti-aircraft missile systems, radar systems, communications systems. And after taking these out, it becomes easier for allied aircraft and American aircraft to be able to fly during daytime, because it is important because they can see troop movement. They can see -- they can pick out targets of opportunity, and it makes their job much simpler.

So one thing is for certain: They have caused considerable damage to the Taliban anti-aircraft defense systems -- Carol.

LIN: Kamal, you might know by now that four U.N. aid workers were killed in one of the strikes just outside of the city of Kabul. What are you hearing about civilian casualties?

HYDER: Well, other than the four deminers, which was very, very sad considering the kind of work that they do in Afghanistan to save lives, it is, indeed, very sad. But there is no other confirmation of civilian casualties so far -- no confirmation at all.

LIN: Are you hearing ...

HYDER: Carol.

LIN: ... the Taliban is also reporting from time to time that they have managed to hit some U.S. military aircraft. No substantiation from the United States. They are saying that all planes are reporting back in.

What are you hearing about what the Taliban has been able to hit?

HYDER: It's surprising that the Taliban are saying that they have shot down aircraft, yet they do not allow journalists, who are kept basically under strict rules here. They do not allow these journalists to go and show these aircraft allegedly shot down, because that would only strengthen their case to prove that they have shot down these aircraft.

The fact that they have not been able to show a single aircraft or a captured pilot shows that this is probably a propaganda campaign -- Carol.

LIN: So, Kamal, what is your sense, then, as to how the Taliban -- the ruling Taliban is holding up against these air strikes?

HYDER: Well, they are holding up. They are organized. They were expecting heavy strikes. There was a big time gap in between for them to prepare. They were able to disburse their personnel.

It must be remembered that the Taliban is not a conventional army. They don't move their armor and artillery to move in organized formation. They are guerrilla forces. Their presence from the Hulan areas. They just move on their 4x4's. They get intermingled with the local population, disappear into Afghanistan's rural landscape.

So they are not a conventional army, and then when you're not a conventional army, it's very difficult to hit these targets. So what the Americans are hoping to hit are big sites, which are already destroyed. Considerable destruction has taken place here. So it's very difficult to be able to identify [UNINTELLIGIBLE] with troop concentrations in them -- Carol.

LIN: Kamal, have you been able to see first-hand for yourself the amount of damage some of the targets hit?

HYDER: Carol, we are close to the city of Jalalabad at the alleged camps of al-Qaeda were operating these allegedly terrorist camps. And on the outskirts of the city, well defended and basically protected by Taliban intelligence personnel, who have cordoned off these areas. They don't allow anybody to go close by. And they can -- of course, their intelligence personnel can arrest anybody at will -- anybody seen close to the damaged sites -- Carol.

LIN: All right. Thank you very much, Kamal Hyder -- please stay safe inside that country, and we look forward to more of your reports from eastern Afghanistan.

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