CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Strike Iraq: Scenes From Baghdad
Aired March 20, 2003 - 05:44 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And Saddam Hussein was the target when the United States unleashed its Tomahawk cruise missiles and they hit downtown Baghdad.
We want to go live there now. Rym Brahimi is in Baghdad.
Rym, tell us again, can you see anything new now from your vantage point?
RYM BRAHIMI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, from where we are now, again, the same scene of calm and quiet, 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 2:00 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 today.
We're seeing Iraqi TV a lot of -- and 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 saying the government is still here -- Carol.
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 even 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, mark the end of the Iran-Iraq War, for instance, or the day of revolution of the ruling Bath 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 this -- these first attacks took place -- Carol.
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 this morning to reporters. And he actually told reporters that he wanted to show the world he -- 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 -- Carol.
COSTELLO: OK. Rym Brahimi reporting live from Baghdad.
And we're taking a live look at downtown Baghdad, and you can see traffic moving again, Leon, which is -- that any traffic is moving...
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Not much of it, however.
COSTELLO: Right, not much, but that any is moving at all is pretty amazing under these circumstances.
HARRIS: Well again, we've been hearing from Rym's reports over the past months now that these are a people who are used -- quite accustomed to being at war. And now that the war has actually begun, that kind -- that picture actually belies -- that serene looking picture there belies the flurry of activity, military and otherwise, that is now under way as this Operation Freedom Iraq is actually under way.
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