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Strike on Iraq: War in Iraq Under Way

Aired March 22, 2003 - 19:00   ET


AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening to you again, everyone. It's been a busy day, Lou, hasn't it?
Well, so much for that start. We tried. Can't say we didn't try.

To this point, the war has been taken to the Iraqis, but that changed late today when the war came to the Americans. We'll have more on that as we go.

We first, as always, want to get you caught up on the day's headlines.

Heidi Collins is tasked, as they say in military talk, with doing that -- Heidi.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. Good evening, Aaron. I am Heidi Collins at CNN Center in Atlanta.

Here's what's happening at this hour in the strike on Iraq.

A "TIME" magazine correspondent is reporting injuries at the 101st Airborne camp in Northern Kuwait. Jim Lacey with "TIME" magazine says as many as 10 people were injured, some of them seriously, after someone tossed two grenades into a tent. Lacey says the attack was apparently aimed at the commander of Camp Pennsylvania, home of part of the 101st Airborne.

The military is said to be calling it a terrorist attack. It was not immediately clear whether the attacker was caught.

The Pentagon reports significant gains in the war with Iraq. Invasion forces continue putting down pockets of resistance in Umm Qasr. They also say Iraqi resistance is crumbling around Basra. That's Iraq's second-biggest city.

And U.S. forces have claimed the vital Euphrates crossing of Naziriyah.

Marines in Umm Qasr today continued processing Iraqi POWs. The city is an important port just off the Persian Gulf coast.

Iraqi soldiers were still putting up a fight outside Basra today. U.S. Marines exchanged fire with Iraqi forces but rolled them up enough to capture and demolish several Iraqi armored vehicles, along with their munitions. Troops to the northwest captured the town of Naziriyah, site of a 1991 Muslim revolt against the rule of Saddam Hussein.

This is what happened to some of the palaces in the Iraqi leadership's massive riverside complex during the massive aerial bombardment of the previous 24 hours. The Pentagon says this was the first such barrage in history relying exclusively on precision-guided munitions, although it is investigating a possible accidental bombing of Iranian territory.

U.S. officials said virtually every air and sea combat element was employed during the barrage.

And this is what that Iraqi government complex looks like today. The sculptures of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein are still standing. Whether he is too remains unclear.

In Iraq's northern territories outside the region controlled by the government, the U.S. and U.K. bombed what the Pentagon called a terror camp. The fatalities were said to be extremist Muslims with ties to al Qaeda.

Also in the north, Turkey admits it has had troops there, but denies sending in any new ones.

In other countries, vivid signs of opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Tens of thousands protested in the British capital against their government's participation in the war. Protesters in Bahrein clashed with police near the U.S. embassy there, a clash of rocks versus tear gas.

Several thousand Palestinians protested the war in a march through Gaza and declared their support for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Those are the headlines making news at this hour. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.

And now back to our coverage of Strike on Iraq.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A campaign on harsh terrain in a vast country could be longer and more difficult than some have predicted.


ANNOUNCER: Racing across Iraq toward Baghdad and the unknown.


GEN. TOMMY FRANKS, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: There will be surprises, but we have not yet, we have not yet seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ANNOUNCER: In the desert, dismantling Iraq's defenses one tank at a time. From Baghdad, a reporter's diary of a harrowing night and day.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There was no air raid siren. It was clear to us this morning that Iraq's air defense capability, its early warning system, was not working properly.


ANNOUNCER: And in streets around the world, protests.

Live from Baghdad, Kuwait, Washington, New York, Chicago, and cities around the globe, the Strike on Iraq, live from the front lines.

BROWN: Three a.m. now in Baghdad. There have been explosions throughout the night in the Iraqi capital the last we heard, about 45 minutes ago.

Good evening again, everyone. I'm Aaron Brown at CNN Center in Atlanta.

We've shown you some of the pictures of this war as it has been unfolding, but it is pictures we can't show you that lead this hour of our coverage.

Wolf Blitzer is in Kuwait City, where that news broke a short time ago. Wolf, good evening to you.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening to you, Aaron, as well.

The U.S. Central Command has confirmed 10 people were injured in an attack on the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division in Kuwait. It happened about 90 minutes ago. Our colleague from "TIME" magazine, reporter Jim Lacey, was an eyewitness to the explosions. He has this report.

Lacey is telling us that as an eyewitness, six of those 10 people were seriously injured. Lacey also tells us that intruders apparently lobbed two grenades into a pair of tents housing top officers of the Army's front line 101st Airborne Division.

Lacey himself was only about 20 yards away in a separate tent when the blasts occurred. He helped move two of the wounded to an ambulance, and he later told us that the carnage inside those tends was pretty severe. We'll bring you more on this breaking story as soon as we can. We'll also try to get Jim Lacey back on the phone.

In the meantime, let's go to Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon. He has a bit more on this developing story -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we can't add much more at this point, except, as you said, the U.S. Central Command is confirming that 10 people were injured. Still no reports of any death in this hand grenade attack by some sort of intruder at Camp Pennsylvania.

These are those camps that are named after states in the United States. That dot, the Northern Kuwaiti section, has troops there prepositioned to wait to go into Iraq. U.S. troops are continuing to make a lot of progress moving through Southern Iraq, even though there's only a few troops up in the northern section.

But again, the Pentagon simply says that despite the very, very tight security, it's impossible to defend against every possible kind of terrorist attack, especially if the terrorist or the intruder is willing to sacrifice his own life.

Because of the tight security there, the U.S. is pretty confident it will catch the person or persons involved in this act, apparently rolling a hand grenade into a tent housing U.S. troops.

So that's about all I can tell you about that.

Meanwhile, in the war campaign today, movement both on the ground and in the air. We're told, by the way, that in the air campaign, part of it that you're not seeing involves the A-10 Thunderbolt, affectionately known as the Warthog. This is a tank-killing aircraft. But Pentagon sources tell us it is being used to go after Scud missiles, part of a Scud missile hunt in Western Iraq.

And it's employing a new munition it hasn't used before, a GBU-12 laser-guided bomb. Normally these A-10 tank-killing aircraft use -- carry missiles and use their guns.

The U.S. is, as I said, moving forces ahead. The U.S. military says that the lead elements of the invasion force of the past three days have pushed 150 miles into Baghdad, having crossed the Euphrates River, but the U.S. won't say exactly how long it'll be before they get to their objective.

BLITZER: Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon. Jamie, thanks very much.

Let's get back to Aaron at the CNN Center in Atlanta -- Aaron.

BROWN: Well, thank you very much.

The 101st Airborne, the unit impacted by this attack, this terrorist attack, if you will, they are headquartered at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. It's a legendary unit in the U.S. Army.

David Mattingly joins us from Fort Campbell tonight. David, I know you're trying to gather some reaction, and I also know it's early. Tell us what you can.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron, right now, no official word out of Fort Campbell. We've talked to a number of the family readiness groups' captains, these are wives of officers who are over there. They have a very distinct and very efficient type of phone system set up where, when they have information, they will pass it along so that everybody gets informed just as quickly as possible.

Right now, everyone is just clamoring for information. They really don't know exactly what happened there. And they are waiting for some kind of word on exactly who was injured and more details on how the attack would happen.

I can tell you that some are just shocked by this. They want to know how something like this could have happened in Kuwait. The bulk of the 101st, we've been told, is on the move inside Iraq. That's where all the concern was at this time. So it is coming as quite a surprise that something like this would be happening right now in Northern Kuwait.

It normally takes about two hours, at least it has in the past, when there has been some kind of casualty, for the families to be notified, and we haven't reached that two-hour window yet. It's possible that the people affected by this still just don't know, Aaron.

BROWN: David, it's -- the last time we talked to you, we had just shown pictures of that part of the 101st, that it was getting ready to move out, and the families were able to see their loved ones, and the mood was entirely different. We can only imagine the anxiety now and the anger and the frustration behind those gates, and that will only increase as the night goes on and more details become available.

MATTINGLY: That's right. This is something that they try to prepare for emotionally, but it's something that when it hits home, you never know exactly how to react. The 101st, part of their claim to fame is that they are always ready to deploy anywhere in the world, so they are in a constant state of readiness, their families constantly ready for their loved ones to be going overseas, and always prepared, at least in the back of their minds, for something to happen.

But when it happens like this, they still don't have that information, it can be quite maddening at times.

BROWN: David, thank you. I know you'll continue to do your best to mainly try and get what reaction you can, and of course our hearts are with you and them at Fort Campbell tonight. Thank you, David Mattingly.

In Iraq, when night falls, the apprehension rises, as you can imagine, especially with the firepower of the coalition war planes, which have been directed at Baghdad.

CNN's Gary Tuchman is embedded with the U.S. Air Force at a base near Iraq. We won't give you more detail than that. Gary, update us, please, on the air campaign as you can.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Aaron, Jamie McIntyre was just talking about the increased emphasis on the A-10 Thunderbolt Warthog. These are the A-10s right behind me. They're sitting here at this base near the border of Iraq, and they have been flying in and out all night.

And here's the latest information we are learning from highly placed Air Force officials. We are being told within the first 48 hours of Shock and Awe, and that's a time period that'll end at 1:00 Eastern time tomorrow, there will be 3,500 total sorties, 1,500 of those in the last 24 hours.

Of those 1,500, 800 are strike sorties using bombs and missiles. The others are on support missions. A total of 500 aim points in this 24-hour period. Now, aim points are different than targets. One target could have more than one aim point. A presidential palace could have dozens of aim points, and they're looking for 500 aim points in this 24-hour period.

According to these sources, aircraft tonight are "pounding" -- this is a quote -- "pounding on Republican Guard forces." And there's increased emphasis on the western portion of Iraq in the last 24-hour period.

The atmosphere here at this base, where there are about 8,000 American service men and women, also British military personnel and Australian military personnel, is very professional, but also very subdued. We were in the mess hall a few hours ago -- that's a plane taking off right now, that's why it's so loud here. This is, of course, what we're hearing constantly while we stand here.

But we were in the mess hall a few hours ago. There were probably 300 to 400 military personnel inside. Never have I been in a room where people are eating where it is so quiet. They talk very quietly, there are very few smiles. Most of the smiles you do see are from pilots who have successfully completed their missions.

Aaron, back to you.

BROWN: Gary, thank you very much. Gary Tuchman at an Air Force base in Kuwait, as the air campaign launches from there.

Wolf, you're not that far from Camp Pennsylvania, probably an hour or so by drive on a normal day. I can't imagine it is anything but the most difficult of circumstances tonight.

BLITZER: You know, they -- this was one of the things that the U.S. military was very concerned about, not necessarily the Iraqi formal military presence, but the possibility of terrorism. I don't think they anticipated it would develop as quickly as it apparently has. That's the working assumption, according to Jim Lacey, our colleague from "TIME" magazine.

We're going to continue to update our viewers on precisely what happened with those 10 soldiers injured at this base here in Kuwait, six of them apparently very seriously.

But for the first time since the Shock and Awe bombing campaign began, the U.S. general in charge of the coalition forces is giving his take on the war.

General Tommy Franks is also addressing the uncertainty over the Iraqi president and what that could mean for the fighting.

Here's CNN's Tom Mintier.


TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The commander of coalition in forces in Iraq, U.S. General Tommy Franks, says he waited until the third day of operations before facing reporters because he feared it might not only compromise the mission but endanger the lives of those conducting the war on the ground.

The session also included a stern warning for Iraqi soldiers who either have weapons of mass destruction or control their possible use.

FRANKS: We would be hopeful that those with their triggers on these weapons understand, don't use it. Don't use it.

MINTIER: There were also images of oil wells in Southern Iraq on fire, apparently sabotaged by fleeing Iraqi troops. But General Franks told reporters the well fires were far fewer than they feared, just nine out of a possible 500 were set on fire.

The U.S. commander also says that between 1,000 and 2,000 Iraqi soldiers are now surrendering to coalition forces. This satellite photograph, he says, shows more than 700 who had lined up as instructed before the conflict started. They were told to lay down their weapons and form a line that could be identified by coalition forces.

(on camera): General Franks also says he has no idea where Saddam Hussein is, nor whether he is dead or alive. He also quickly added that this war is not about one man but a regime, one that the general promised would soon be gone.

Tom Mintier, CNN, Doha, Qatar.


BLITZER: So there you have it. In the opening moments of the war, the question is this, where's Saddam? But lately the question has often been, among some specialists, does it really matter? The U.S. military's top commander says coalition forces will continue their push into Baghdad regardless of whether Saddam Hussein is dead or alive.

CNN's David Ensor reports.


DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With another tape of Saddam Hussein, Iraqi television sought to emphasize that he remains alive and in control. True or not, U.S. intelligence and military leaders say it matters less and less. FRANK: I don't know if he's alive or not. But interestingly, the way we're undertaking this military operation, it would not be changed irrespective of the location or the life of this one man.

ENSOR: U.S. intelligence officials say communications from the Iraqi leadership are dramatically down since the first air strikes of the war, including the one that targeted his compound, suggesting to some Saddam is probably alive, and most worried about saying that way.

KEN POLLACK, CNN ANALYST: He doesn't know if it was a human who betrayed him or it was a technical system that betrayed him. And so as a result, his M.O. is always, go to ground, go into hiding, rely only on your trusted emissaries.

ENSOR: Besides tracking Iraqi leaders, U.S. intelligence officials say they have several key goals now, to protect and help U.S. troops, to negotiate surrenders and standdowns of Iraqi units, to watch Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, and not only to keep those weapons from being used against American soldiers.

POLLACK: One of the great concerns that the administration is that in the collapse of the regime, you may have individuals who will take some of the weapons of mass destruction and transfer them to other countries or to terrorist groups.

ENSOR: The U.S. military dealt with one such group Friday, bombing the Northern Iraqi enclave held by Ansar al-Islam, a fundamentalist group the U.S. says has ties to al Qaeda. Special forces and U.S. intelligence moved in after the bombs.

(on camera): Though publicly U.S. officials are playing down the importance at this point of Saddam Hussein, they would still very much like to get him. Analysts argue if he dies, the regime could quickly come apart at the seams, potentially saving many lives, American, Iraqi, British, and others.

David Ensor, CNN, Washington.


BLITZER: But the bottom line right now here in the Persian Gulf is clearly, no one knows whether Saddam Hussein is alive or dead, and if he is alive, how much control he has right now -- Aaron.

BROWN: Well, we -- the big picture here changes not one bit. Coalition forces continue to make their way toward Baghdad, they're pushing ahead. The president is up at Camp David. It is legitimately a working weekend for the president. He consulted with a key ally today, and he met with his war council, his war advisers today.

Back at the White House is the press corps. CNN White House correspondent Dana Bash has the duty tonight. Dana, good evening to you.

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Aaron. Well, you're right, the president is at Camp David at this hour and will be there all weekend long. And the president really, we are told, enjoys Camp David. He likes to get there especially on beautiful weekends like this to exercise. We are told that he was planning to exercise there, but, as you said, it is a working weekend.

He met with his war council, as it is now called, his national security team. He met for about 90 minutes with them this morning. There you see a photo. It was a full crowd there, almost -- it -- almost the entire war council was there, including the vice president, the secretary of state, his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, all meeting and discussing the battle, the battle front, what is going on there.

And the president, we are told, after that did stay in close contact with -- through his national security adviser with what is going on in Iraq throughout the day.

But the president also made it very clear today in his weekly radio address that there is a little bit of concern about the fact that Americans might think this war will be very short. He tried to sort of tamp down expectations on that by making it clear that it could be very long and very dangerous.

The other thing that he said that all -- is that although they want to try to minimize civilian casualties in Iraq, it might be very difficult.


BUSH: American and coalition forces face enemies who have no regard for the conventions of war or rules of morality. Iraqi officials have placed troops and equipment in civilian areas, attempting to use innocent men, women, and children as shields for the dictator's army.

I want Americans and all the world to know that coalition forces will make every effort to spare innocent civilians from harm.


BASH: And the other thing the president did today, we are told, is phone his top ally in this effort, the British prime minister, Tony Blair. We are told by the White House that the two men spoke for about 30 minutes about the progress on the war front. They also discussed, we are told, the huge humanitarian effort that awaits them, Aaron.

BROWN: Dana, thank you. Dana Bash at the White House.

Wolf, the president underscoring again the need or the attempt, at least, to avoid civilian casualties. There were some pictures on Arab TV, as I'm sure you saw there, that would be very inflammatory. That's the kind of thing the White House worries about.

BLITZER: They're deeply worried about it, especially concerned that these kinds of pictures, the huge air strikes, the reaction in the Arab world from what happened in Baghdad, they're concerned that it could generate, perhaps, more terrorism. That's a source of great concern. Everyone is going to be watching that.

By the way, CNN, of course, will have all the latest developments on the war, including reaction from the highest levels. Tomorrow I'll talk to the top man at the Defense Department, the defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. We'll -- I'll ask him all the latest -- I'll ask him about the latest developments in the war. What are the next steps? We'll have it -- have them on a special late edition, Strike on Iraq. That will begin, of course, tomorrow, Sunday, noon Eastern.

Across the United States today, freedom of speech led to urban gridlock. Coming up, Broadway and a cast of thousands. It's a much different sentiment on U.S. military bases. Next, anxious families share the burden of waiting.


BROWN: Well, in Camp Pendleton, California, military families have been clustering around TV sets. They are anxiously awaiting whatever news they can get from the front lines. Others tie yellow ribbons, they pray for their loved ones to come home, as do we all.

CNN's Thelma Gutierrez has been talking with some of those military families at Camp Pendleton, the huge Marine base there, and she joins us live with the latest -- Thelma.

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you're right, Aaron, it is a huge base. There are about 40,000 Marines who are based here during peacetime. Family members, as you had mentioned, Aaron, sitting here on pins and needles waiting for any news. And, of course, lately the news has not been very good.

Today, things have been relatively quiet. I've talked to some of the Marines here right at the entrance of the base. And you get a sense of how somber the mood is. After all, this is a base which is home to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, which was among the first to cross into Iraq. And now news that five of seven U.S. deaths were actually based here.

That brings the total coalition U.S. death toll up to 21. You can see right there the flag flies at half-staff.

The Department of Defense released the names of those who were killed in action on the 21st. They are 22-year-old Lance Corporal Jose Gutierrez of Los Angeles and 30-year-old Second Lieutenant Theryl Childers (ph) of Harrison, Mississippi, both based here at Camp Pendleton.

Family members of the Marines, two Marines who were actually killed in the CH -- (audio interrupt)


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (audio interrupt) ... hate the loss. But, you know, I think it's -- I think it's -- and I say this, I think it's kind of like a -- this war, I think, is kind of like a -- an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. The Gulf Desert Storm War took, you know, less than a year. This one, I hope, will take even less than that.


BROWN: Wow. That is -- we lost Thelma out there, but the essence, the essence of that is pretty clear. These are difficult days, and there are more difficult days to come out at Camp Pendleton and Fort Campell, Kentucky, tonight, and a lot of other places where American families of servicemen are stationed, and they are worried. It's been an active day around the world where the war is concerned.

Wolf, you're well aware of how the international community has reacted as well.

BLITZER: A lot of unease, Aaron, around the world as coalition forces sweep into Baghdad, demonstrations sweeping across the globe, antiwar protesters rallied in cities from Barcelona to Jakarta and many points in between.

Thousands of peace activists turned out on the streets of London earlier today. Some waved signs saying, "Bring Our Boys Home," or "Blair Out." The British prime minister, Tony Blair, has been one of President Bush's strongest allies, if not his strongest ally.

In Gaza, meanwhile, some 10,000 Palestinians flooded the streets. Many carried signs declaring their solidarity with Saddam Hussein. And in New Zealand, at least 4,000 protesters surrounded the Australian embassy and shouted slogans denouncing the Australian prime minister, John Howard. Howard has committed 2,000 Australian forces to the war on Iraq, Aaron.

BROWN: And of course it was not just overseas that these protests have been going on. There were major protests, large protests in a number of big U.S. cities today. Peace activists in New York and in Washington, in San Francisco. Chicago's been the scene of major antiwar protests now three nights running.

Today, though, peace activists squared off against people who support the policy of the war. In downtown, Chicago is a tough little town, Chicago police had to work pretty hard to keep the two sides apart.

The largest of the antiwar rallies took place in New York today. The police estimates are about 200,000 police activists marched from Times Square downtown to Washington Square Park. Some of those activists did clash with police. Protesters clashed with protesters on the other side as well. It was, in fact, in many respects a very nasty day in midtown and downtown New York.

We're joined now by Whitney Casey, who was covering that for us in New York. Whitney, good evening to you.

WHITNEY CASEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Aaron. Well, behind me right here are Chief Esposito and some of the police officers here in New York. They're just now deciding that this protest is over. There are about 300 people that are still here in Washington Square Park, a much smaller number than started today.

The police estimates that you said, about 200,000, some of the protesters estimate about 300,000.

I'm just going to show you a little bit across the street right here. This is where some of the protesters -- there are only a few of them here now, about 200 to 300 in Washington Square Park -- still remain. The police here are just starting to disperse. They say that if they leave, they feel that maybe the protesters will go home.

But it was -- started out as a much more peaceful day. There were those 200,000 people walking 40 blocks, all the way from midtown down here to Washington Square Park. At about 4:00, when the protest was supposed to end, there were only two arrests. But after they stayed here in Washington Square Park, up until tonight now, those numbers have increased to 84 arrests.

And also, I had a police officer just tell me over here, he was hit in the face.

And so it started out very calm earlier today. Let's take a look at that.


CASEY (voice-over): A slew of arrests and scuffles with police as antiwar demonstrators grow impatient with their resistance. A march through the streets of New York down Broadway ends 30 blocks into Washington Square Park.

Myra Howard came today with her husband and 16-month-old daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we're in the war for oil. I think we want to monopolize the oil, and that's why we're over there.

CASEY: Student Lena Eberhardt (ph) is visiting from Portland, Oregon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm really concerned about the long-term effects of what we're doing, and how...

CASEY (on camera): (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the global effects?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The global effects, and how we're taking so many steps back that all the work that people are doing is, like, they have to start over all the time.

CASEY (voice-over): Some demonstrators using satire to make their point.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, he's the Tin Man after all. And you have Bush, who -- you know, I hate to disparage a public figure, but he's not the brightest president we've had.

CASEY: The march that started midday proceeded down dozens of blocks without conflict. But police made arrests at the end of route when some protesters wouldn't leave.


CASEY: As you can see, the police behind me right here, this is the chief. He's just told me right now that they are pulling out of here. As of right now, 84 arrests have been made and 11 police officers were mildly injured, Aaron. But again, those numbers from 200,000 to 300,000 very peaceful protesters earlier in the day.

Back to you, Aaron.

BROWN: Whitney, thank you. Whitney Casey, who's in New York City tonight.

It is -- we note that most if not all of the protesters at these antiwar demonstrations very carefully pointed out that their complaint is with the policy, with the president, but not with the troops overseas. In some rallies, like one that took place in North Carolina today, are organized specifically to support the troops.

This is Raleigh, North Carolina. The crowd gathered outside the state capitol in Raleigh in what was billed as a rally for America. Some of them singing "God Bless America." As you can see, others holding up American flags, some even painting their faces red, white, and blue.

It was a day to demonstrate your feelings in the United States and in many ways around the world.

Coming up, we'll take you back inside Iraq after the Iraqi army fled in some cases from coalition troops.

Got down to some target practice today. It got serious business. Marty Savidge of our staff was right in the middle of it.

There are concerns today about the weather, sandstorms building. And we will check on that as well.

And around the United States and around the world, it continues to be a day of protests, and we'll continue following that strain as this broadcast continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) * HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm Heidi Collins at CNN Center.

Checking the latest developments now at this hour, a reporter for "TIME" magazine says intruders lobbed grenades into two tents housing top officers of the Army's 101st Airborne Division in Northern Kuwait. The reporter tells CNN at least 10 people were wounded, six of them seriously. Meanwhile, in Baghdad, and you are looking at a live picture now, 3:34 a.m. there, aside from scattered explosions heard the last several hours, it has been relatively calm in the Iraqi capital.

Coalition troops have pushed 150 miles into Iraqi territory now and have moved beyond the Euphrates River. They've reached the outskirts of Basra, the second-biggest city in Iraq.

Meanwhile, British and U.S. troops ran into some resistance in Umm Qasr, a port city captured yesterday before all was secured.

A knowledgeable U.S. official tells CNN that reports of the death of the man known as Chemical Ali are wrong. Chemical Ali, whose real name is Ali Hassan Magid (ph), played a role in an attack on Kurds in 1988 and may be running some of Iraq's defenses.

Protesters both for and against the war in Iraq took to the streets again today. In Chicago, demonstrators from both sides were kept apart by police. In Los Angeles, a large crowd gathered outside the CNN bureau in what seemed to be more of an antimedia protest. And in New York, hundreds of thousands of antiwar protesters marched from Times Square to Washington Square Park.

And those are the headlines making news at this hour. You're watching CNN, your most trusted source for news. Now back to our coverage of Strike on Iraq.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: There's been a grenade attack at a U.S. military base in Northern Kuwait, not far away from where I am right now.

I'm Wolf Blitzer, reporting live from Kuwait City. We're told by the U.S. military's Central Command 10 U.S. Army soldiers from the famed 101st Airborne Division have been injured, six of them seriously. They've been moved to a military field hospital for treatment.

No word on the perpetrators. There is a suspicion among U.S. military personnel at Camp New Jersey and Camp Pennsylvania, where these attacks occurred at two tents housing senior officers of the 101st Airborne. There is a suspicion of terrorism but no official word yet on what was the cause of this attack, grenades involved.

Let's go to CNN's David Mattingly. He's at the home base, the headquarters, of the 101st. They're called the Screaming Eagles at Fort Campbell, Kentucky -- David.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, here at Fort Campbell, still our attempts to contact the post public affairs officers have been unsuccessful. We have talked to a number of organized groups of wives and spouses here at the camp, all expressing a great deal of surprise that something like this would happen in Northern Kuwait when the bulk of the 101st seems to be in more danger on the move in Iraq tonight.

Joining me, though, is -- are a couple of wives who are from the 1st Brigade. Your husbands are with the 1st Brigade. And the last you heard, your husbands were at Camp Pennsylvania. What have you heard tonight?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just the news that there were the grenade attacks, and that's it, and we feel pretty confident that our husbands are safe, that they weren't anywhere near there. But we feel for the...

MATTINGLY: This brings into focus the issue of the media coverage. You're finding out in the media and not from official sources yet. Does that bother you, or does it make it more stressful for you in times like this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just the specifics, you know, because you hear, like, when the missile was launched and I was, like, well, what, you know, it said, Kuwait, I was, like, well, what camp? You know, there are several different ones. And, you know, our husbands are at Camp Pennsylvania with the grenades. We don't know who it was or...

MATTINGLY: The 101st is always prepared to move out. You're always prepared for your husbands to have to get shipped out somewhere. You're prepared for this mentally, but when something like this happens, can you truly be prepared?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, you never can truly be prepared for what's going to happen. Just -- it happens, and I think you just have to take it as it comes, and you have to deal with it, and you have to rely on your family and your friends and your community and your family support community.

MATTINGLY: Since the Gulf War, the Army's done a great deal of work to try to support families. Do you feel like you're getting the support that you need right now in this time when you need this kind of information?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes. I have a great support system, family and friends, and they're hundred thousands of wives here that are going through the same things that we are.

MATTINGLY: And we're all waiting for that information tonight. So ladies, thank you very much for joining us.

Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right, I'm sure there's a lot of anxious families over there at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. We'll continue to follow this story, bring the latest. We're attempting to get back in touch with Jim Lacey of "TIME" magazine, our colleague there. He's embedded with the 101st. He's the one who called us with first word of this grenade attack at these two tents at this camp just north, in the northern part of Kuwait, Aaron.

AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Wolf, I'm just listening to those two young women talk about their support system. Given the nature of modern communications and how we have been able to literally show the 101st and a lot of other units as they go about their business, I suspect they have an entire nation of support who must feel like they know the men of the 101st.

We also have come to know the fighter pilots who are based all over the Gulf and the Red Sea too. In this case, the U.S.S. "Abraham Lincoln," those pilots have been flying round the clock missions unleashing significant doses of damage. How do you like the way that -- we said that one?

Kyra Phillips is on board this aircraft carrier with its crew of 5,700, planes dropping bombs and firing off missiles, based up there in Everett, Washington, north of Seattle, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with about 5,700 men and women on board, as we said, CNN's Kyra Phillips is embedded with that unit, and she has filed for us today.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You are welcome to Shock and Awe from the U.S.S. "Abraham Lincoln." Let's take a look at these pictures from not long ago when the first strikes began. Now, pilots tell me they were fired upon constantly. A number of threats in the air that they faced. (UNINTELLIGIBLE), surface-to-air missiles, old Soviet MIGs, also lots of triple-A fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) out there (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and mainly we were above the triple-A, so actually that was nice to stay above that. But there was a lot of stuff coming up at us tonight, and that 14-D Super Tomcat with the systems it has to offer, that keeps us safe while we're doing this job.

PHILLIPS: Steve, how about you? What did you see? What were you feeling as soon as you got in country?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was amazed at the sheer size of this operation, the number of people talking on the radio. But also from the -- for the hour prior to us getting in country and dropping our bombs, explosions as far as I could see, going off probably two or three every second for a full hour. It was quite amazing. I've never seen anything like it.

As we pressed in, like Lucas said, he -- we saw a number of SAMs, some ballistically launched, and then as we pressed in close to Baghdad, some that were actually guided.

Fortunately, thanks to the people that were out there with us who helping to keep us safe from those threats while we're flying in that threat envelope, they did their job, and our systems worked, and thanks to our maintainers, who gave us good systems in the first place, they work long hours, and they, you know, you don't get to see them very often, but they're with us there too. And it's awesome, the product that they gave us. And we all appreciate that.

PHILLIPS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), gentlemen, thank you.

And we'll continue to stay here aboard U.S.S. "Abraham Lincoln," continuing to cover the campaign as it goes down through the day and through the night out here in the Persian Gulf. Back to you.

BROWN: That's Kyra Phillips aboard the U.S.S. "Abraham Lincoln." These embedded correspondents are able to give us these snapshots, if you will, of various aspects of the war. It's our job here to try and take all these puzzle pieces and give you the broad look at what is happening in Iraq.

Miles O'Brien joins us now to help look at that, to take a look at where, after these first few days, the coalition forces are -- Miles.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, let's put as many pieces together as we can, Aaron. And to help me do that, we have some good help, General Wesley Clark, retired U.S. Army, former NATO supreme commander.

General Clark, good to have you with us.


O'BRIEN: We're going to take a look, let's take a look at a wide picture, wide map of the region, showing us a good portion of Kuwait and Iraq. Want to start in the right-hand corner, which is Basra region. And let's talk about the U.S. Marines and British troops there, and what we know about where they are and what they did.

CLARK: Well, what we know, Miles, is the U.S. and British forces crossed the border from Kuwait. They were accompanied by apparently an air assault and maybe a Naval operation to take the oil rigs and the oil pumping station at Umm Qasr. But the British marines, the British forces seem to have been on the right flank, the Marines seem to have been on the left flank.

The Marines took the oil fields, the part of the Ramalia (ph) fields near Basra. They secured the air field. They began destroying vehicles. They met some tough resistance from some hardnosed Iraqi security elements inside Basra. They backed off after securing the bridges and the British forces have been left to negotiate the surrender of Basra while the Marines have regrouped and are preparing to head north for Baghdad.

O'BRIEN: All right. That gives you that right-hand quadrant there.

Let's talk about some of the heavy armor here. They started right about here. Where do we know about where this heavy cavalry unit is right now, general?

CLARK: Well, it's been released that they're somewhere up near Nasiriyah...

BROWN: Which is right about there. Go ahead.

CLARK: ... and we believe that they have secured, one of the elements of that division has secured the bridge over the Euphrates river there. Now, where they go from there, of course, is speculative. We don't have any knowledge of the plans. But it is about halfway to Baghdad. And they're clearly putting pressure on the Iraqi defensive elements there.

O'BRIEN: All right. Now let's move a little bit further over to the left here. We'll give you a sense of an airborne unit, the 101st Airborne, specifically. You could give us a sense of where we think they may be.

CLARK: Well, what we know of the 101st Airborne right now is that at least one brigade has been moving in trucks and in Humvees up probably to the west flank of the 3rd Infantry Division, probably moving up toward those captured air bases at H2 and H3...

O'BRIEN: That would put them...


O'BRIEN: ... right up in there, right?


O'BRIEN: And then we'll...

CLARK: Probably not there yet, but (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

O'BRIEN: Well, they're not there yet, but where would they go from there? Probably straight in to the north, and straight to Baghdad.

CLARK: Probably would be the force in the north. There's got to be a way to get that northern element in there. And as you know, the 4th Infantry Division has been officially pulled off the mission of going through Turkey to come in from the north.

O'BRIEN: All right. Let's move the map down now to Nasiriyah, because you were telling me some interesting things about armored doctrine, in other words, the rules of engagement by -- according to the U.S. Army on how you move armor, in this case, what you do when you come to a river and how you deal with bridges. Give us a sense of what happened on the ground here, general.

CLARK: Well, we know that there was some resistance from the Iraqis there, that the forces that we put on the ground did not do a tank charge, a World War II-style infantry assault to try to overrun the Iraqi forces. Instead, using our superior firepower and communications, we put artillery fire on, and when that didn't loosen them up, we brought in A-10s, and we've heard already today from some of the A-10 pilots who flew that mission. And they were successful in breaking the resistance.

And apparently we've moved at least some elements of the 3rd Infantry Division across the Euphrates.

Now, we don't know whether the whole division will go across or whether the division will split and go up on both sides of the Euphrates. But at some point, to get to Baghdad, you got to get across the Euphrates.

O'BRIEN: So it's possible you might have tanks going up both sides of that river bank. What's the reason behind all that?

CLARK: You might, because you might get greater depth. On the other hand, you could make -- also make the argument in classic military strategy, never allow a river to split your avenue of approach. So it can be played either way, and we just don't know, and that's the commander's call.

O'BRIEN: All right. One final point before we get away. There is a report we're trying to chase down that there may have been a skirmish as close as 95 miles from Baghdad in a place called Najaf (ph). We're trying to get you some more information on that. That's Najaf. That would put U.S. forces a lot closer. General Clark, just briefly, that seems like rapid advance.

CLARK: It does. But again, this is open terrain. And if there's no resistance from the enemy, there's nothing to stop you from moving at 20, 256 miles an hour. It's the enemy that determines the pace of advance. So it's very possible that this 3rd Infantry Division or some other force has raced north after seizing the crossing site at Nasiriyah and encountered the next speed bump, that Iraqi force at Najaf.

O'BRIEN: All right. The big picture from a man who knows how to synthesize it, put the pieces together for you. We're still -- we still got a puzzle left, Aaron, but we're working on it.

BROWN: Well, and as the general reminds me often, this is the easy part, the relatively easy part, getting from the border to this point. It gets a lot nastier, or might, in the days ahead, Wolf.

BLITZER: There's no doubt. This is a breathtaking story, Aaron, the developments simply are coming in not necessarily by the hour, almost by the minute.

Let's go to CNN's Karl Penhaul. He's in Northern Kuwait right now with yet another dramatic development -- Karl.

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. Just a few moments ago, the all-clear was sounded. That was following an attack by an Iraqi missile on one of the U.S. base camps here close to the border with Iraq but on the Kuwaiti side. I heard, I was asleep at the time, but we were woken in the tent where I'm sleeping by the blast of two Patriot missiles as they went up into the atmosphere, U.S. Patriot missiles, went into the atmosphere to intercept an incoming Iraqi missile.

Commanders here at the base have told me that that Iraqi missile was successfully destroyed in the atmosphere, and following an alert, a chemical alert that lasted some 40 or 50 minutes, the all-clear has sounded, and there's been no detection of any chemicals present.

Commanders haven't been able to say yet what type of missile it was. First indications were that it may have been a Scud. They're now revising that and trying to analyze what kind of missile it may have been.

But certainly, Wolf, that missile didn't impact the ground. It was successfully intercepted by the Patriot missiles, Wolf.

BLITZER: Karl, there have been a few other missiles that have come into Kuwait successfully intercepted by this new generation of Patriot air defense missiles earlier within the past 48 hours. But the 40 minutes that you were waiting to get the all-clear, was everybody in their full chemical and biological protective gear?

PENHAUL: No, Wolf, because we were underneath tents, because we were underneath canvas, there was no need to put on the so-called MOC (ph) suits, the biological-chemical suits that are packed with charcoal. Those are primarily for use when one is out in the open.

The first order is to get under cover. Since most of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- since I myself and most of the American troops here were asleep at the time, there was no need to get under cover. We were simply woken by the sound of the Patriot missiles, put on the masks, and waited there.

And as you correctly say, yes, there have been previous Iraqi missile attacks in this region of Northern Kuwait. But my recollection is that the last of those was before the start of the ground war, before American troops crossed the berm into Iraq.

And I think the fact that Iraqi missiles are still coming in now is not taking anybody by surprise. Obviously the Patriot missiles were on standby. But it has left some of the commanders here scratching their heads, trying to figure out what kind of range these Iraqi missiles are, and from what position they may have been fired, considering American forces are so far into Iraq now, Wolf.

BLITZER: Karl Penhaul, we were showing our viewers some details, some graphics showing the Scud missile. Unclear at this point whether or not that was a Scud missile. They're continuing to investigate. The Iraqis have other kinds of missiles still in their arsenal, including, as you -- as all of our viewers remember, those Al Samoud 2 missiles, half of which, half of the arsenal, was destroyed by U.N. inspectors, but others, presumably, were not.

We'll continue to follow that story, and we're going to get back to Karl when he gets some more information.

We're going to take a quick break, but up next, the road to the final four in full swing, but is March madness taking on a different meaning this year? Stay with us.


BLITZER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage of the Strike on Iraq.

You're looking at live pictures of Baghdad right now, relatively quiet, although this has been anything but quiet throughout the past several hours in Baghdad. Huge explosions rocked parts of the city, indeed parts of the city went into darkness, according to eyewitnesses, for about one hour.

The residents of Baghdad getting a little bit of quiet right now, but at any moment, you never know, given what's going on, given the promises of the U.S. military, that this Shock and Awe campaign will continue, will continue over the next hours, indeed, days, as they try to rattle, rattle the Iraqi leadership, no definitive word on the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein, or many of his other top leaders.

Widespread reports of disarray in the Iraqi leadership, widespread reports that communications with top Republican Guard units may not be all that successful. We're going to continue to follow, watch the story in Baghdad. At any moment, things could get exciting there once again.

In the meantime, let's go back to Aaron -- Aaron.

BROWN: Well, exciting and dangerous and deadly and a lot of other adjectives, I suppose.

One of the differences, if you're in Baghdad, if we could see the city again, if you're in Baghdad this morning, you don't expect anything to be terribly normal.

But the fact is, here in the United States, it's a very normal weekend for most people, around the country there is the tremendous interest, as there always is, in the NCAA basketball tournament that's being played, March madness, and the Cinderella stories where the little schools knock off the big powerhouses and all the rest.

Obviously these are not normal times, and the fans know it and the players certainly know it as well.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) still play basketball, still compete. But I think it's like everybody's mind is definitely keeping loved ones and even other people's families in mind. In fact, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a lot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a weird experience to be over here playing basketball and then be able to fight for our country, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the same age.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After hearing comments on TV from, you know, from the military people, they say, you know, they picked all (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and stuff like that, you know, and they're actually looking forward, you know, seeing us playing. I mean, it just makes me feel good, actually, right now. I mean, I'm kind of changing my mind right now, and I'm actually accepting that. And if it makes them, you know, better, you know, just by playing us, I mean, that's what we should do, and...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to keep going, I think, is a good sign for us. I'm excited to play, the truth, and I know he's -- my brother's down in North Carolina cheering me on, and so happy about that too. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're fighting the real war, you know, we think we're fighting a war in here on the basketball court. But in real life, there's no death on the basketball court. You know, but they're out there with the guns and the ammunition and stuff, and they're protecting us right now.


BROWN: One coach told his players, he said, There are right now guys your age, 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds, who are out there fighting for your country so that you can play this basketball tournament. That was his motivation speech, and that is literally true at this hour.

American B-52s, those giant workhorses of the Air Force, have taken off from an air base in England, took off some time ago. We won't go into the specific details of when they launched. The B-52s are as old as most of us. In fact, they have been the main heavy bomber of the American military for a long time. You see pictures of them in -- going even beyond Vietnam, before Vietnam.

They have been updated. In the old days, they -- in Vietnam, they would have been used for those massive carpet bombings. These days they have those precision weapons, but they are essentially the same airplane. And they are taking off, or they have taken off, for -- towards Iraq, whether it's Baghdad or somewhere else in the country, we don't know.

But as they take off, it's about a six-hour flight, Wolf, as I recall. And we hope that they get -- all get back safely.

BLITZER: You know, Aaron, these B-52s may be old planes, 40-, 50-year-old planes, but they have some of the most advanced avionics, some of the most advanced bombing capabilities, in the U.S. military arsenal. They're highly reliable and, of course, they're well used in this bombing campaign that is continuing throughout big parts of Iraq, not only Baghdad, we have cameras in Baghdad, but they're continuing in Mosul, in Kirkuk, and in Tikrit, which is the home town, the home base, of Saddam Hussein.

The B-52s, an impressive war plane, impressive bomber. They now have a new generation, though, those B-2 Stealth bombers, the B-2 Stealth bombers have been deployed closer to the region right now, and they're being used as well, Aaron.

BROWN: That's just part of the arsenal, I guess, would be the right word, that's in play on the ground, in the air, all over the theater. The campaign continues to unfold on this Saturday night. A lot of things have happened today. And we have much more coverage. But for those of you who may just be joining us, we'll try and update you on the major headlines of the day.

Heidi Collins here at CNN Center for that -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Thank you, Aaron. I'm Heidi Collins at CNN Center, and here now are the latest developments at this hour. The Pentagon is reporting 10 injuries, some of them very serious, after a grenade attack behind the U.S. front lines. At least two people were spotted running off after grenades were tossed into two tents of the 101st Airborne at Camp Pennsylvania in Northern Kuwait. It is believed to have been an attempt on the life of the camp commander.

Iraq says 200 civilians have been injured in the American and British bombardment of Baghdad. President Bush has accused the Iraqis of putting civilians in harm's way. The Pentagon says every single one of more than 1,000 bombs that fell during the bombing campaign was precision guided. That is a first in military history.

The Pentagon says advancing invasion forces have seized two critical oil terminals, the cities of Umm Qasr and Basra, Iraq's second-biggest cities, and U.S. troops are claiming control of Nasiriyah, where they crossed over the Euphrates on their march north.

Marines outside Basra did run into hostile fire from Iraqi troops. The two sides exchanged fire and the Marines set fire to abandoned Iraqi tanks, vehicles, and munitions.

The U.S. request for about 60 countries to boot Iraqi diplomats is meeting some resistance now. The State Department claims some Iraqi diplomats are intelligence agents planning terror attacks against American interests. Australia and Rumania are kicking the Iraqis out. Not doing so are Canada, France, Russia, Germany, Hungary, and the Netherlands.

Well, those are the headlines making news at this hour. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news. Now back to our coverage of Strike on Iraq.


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