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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

America Strikes Back: Uzbekistan Allows Use of Bases; Not Clear if U.S. Troops Have Arrived

Aired October 9, 2001 - 05:44   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: Well, the ways of life are changing dramatically in regions closer to where those strikes are taking place. Right now we have our reporter Alessio Vinci, he is in Karshi, Uzbekistan. He's got the latest for us right now on the nation's decision, rather, to assist in this anti-terror coalition, a decision which may cause some problems there in Uzbekistan.

Good morning, Alessio.

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning to you, Leon.

Well the decision taken last week by the Uzbek president Islam Karimov was to allow the United States to use one of the former Soviet military air bases here in this country to participate in the fight against terrorism against Afghanistan and that base, however, Mr. Karimov saying that it could only be used for humanitarian missions or such as those food drops or the search and rescue operations that the U.S. would have to launch into Afghanistan to assist any downed U.S. military planes.

The problem here is that of course there is absolutely no information on how many of the U.S. military troops have already arrived. We know that some of them are here at the Hanabad air space -- air base because we have seen a lot of activity in the early days here when we got here about Sunday and Monday and we've seen a lot of planes coming in and leaving, a lot of the helicopters flying around. So we did assume -- we could assume that if (ph) the soldiers had arrived here.

However, we are absolutely -- we cannot go anywhere near that military base. Even when we visit that base before, we could go a little bit further down the road. Now there are several checkpoints that have been set up by the local police here and there is absolutely no way for us to find out what kind of activity is going on in there and what kind of assistance the U.S. soldiers are getting to the current air strike against Afghanistan.

Just to give you a little bit of a sense, Leon, the Uzbek officials on Monday, yesterday here, had even said that there are no U.S. military troops yet in this country, there are no rangers, no special forces in Uzbekistan. So I can tell you that we can assume that they're here because we have seen a lot of activity, the security around the base, a lot of people here are telling us that they're seeing planes flying, taking off and landing they haven't seen before. But, yes, there is no official confirmation that the troops are already here -- Leon.

HARRIS: All right, Alessio Vinci reporting live this morning for us from Karshi, Uzbekistan.

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