CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
British Reporter Says Marines Have Taken Back Umm Qasr
Aired March 23, 2003 - 05:01 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And, it's time to begin our next hour. It's 5:01 Eastern. And, this is reality TV at wartime. Coalition forces are trying to mop up pockets of resistance in the southern Iraqi court city of Umm Qasr.
Air strikes have hit an enemy target, but the fight is not over, but it's just about over now. A British reporter on the scene says an Iraqi Republican Guard Commander has surrendered and the American Marines have pretty much taken back control of Umm Qasr.
The drive toward Baghdad by the U.S. Army's Seventh Cavalry hits a speed bump. Part of the forces battling Iraqi troops in south central Iraq, an Army Humvee has been hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. But, amazingly enough, no soldiers were injured. The squadron's commander says they are still ahead of schedule in their march to Iraq's capital.
And, there is a report of a possible friendly fire incident in the war zone. A Royal Air Force plane is missing and they have been shot down by a U.S. Patriot missile near the Kuwaiti border. That is according to British and U.S. military officials. The British plane had been returning from a mission.
One U.S. serviceman is dead, a dozen others injured, in a grenade attack at the 101st Airborne camp in Kuwait. That would be Camp Pennsylvania. At least two grenades were tossed into tents at the camp in Kuwait. A "TIME" magazine reporter says the suspect -- you see him there sitting on the ground -- he is now in custody and he is a sergeant attached to the 101st.
Iranian officials now say a missile that landed in northwest Iran was probably fired by Iraqi forces. That report from Reuters quotes the Iranian news agency. Iran initially said a U.S. warplane fired three rockets into the region.
And, the Washington Post is reporting that the war on Iraq actually started seven hours before President Bush's ultimatum ran out. The article says American Special Ops troops entered Iraq at 1:00 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, and they were joined by British and Australian special forces. Their mission was to knock out communications and to position themselves to prevent chemical or biological attacks.
And, demonstrations against the war and for the troops are ongoing across the country. One of the biggest was in New York, where an estimated 200,000 people marched down Broadway. These are anti-war protesters, but about 3,000 people rallied in Dallas to show their support for President Bush and U.S. troops.
And, those are the headlines making news at this hour. You are watching CNN, the most trusted name in news. And now, it's back to our coverage of the war in Iraq.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And, good morning, everyone. It is three past five in Atlanta, a.m. Three past one p.m. in Baghdad. And, you were just looking -- there you are, a live picture from Baghdad. Operation Iraqi Freedom continues along. Good morning, everyone, from CNN's global headquarters in Atlanta, I'm Anderson Cooper.
COSTELLO: And, I'm Carol Costello. Thanks for joining us this morning. Let's get an early briefing now on what you can expect to make news today. As the war on Iraq rages on, President Bush returns to the White House this afternoon at around 1:30 eastern time. He's at Camp David, the Presidential Retreat in Maryland, where he convened a Wartime National Security meeting over the weekend.
Also, this afternoon, the Central Command has scheduled a news briefing in Doha, Qatar, and you can watch that live right here on CNN at 2:00 eastern time.
And, we have to mention that the Oscars will go on tonight in Los Angeles with less glitz and plenty of guards. The tone of the show will be subdued because of the war.
COOPER: Well, as we have been telling you all morning long, U.S. and British forces have captured territory towns and military installations in Iraq, often with no opposition. Coalition forces have reached the outskirts of both Basra, the country's second largest city, and Nasiriya, a major crossing point over the Euphrates. But, coalition forces have opted not to try to occupy these populated areas yet in order to speed up their overall advance. The Falcon missile, of course, was captured Friday.
COSTELLO: OK. We have to talk about an incident that happened earlier today. Apparently, a British war plane was shot down accidentally by a Patriot missile. Let's go to Tom Mintier, who is live at CENTCOM Headquarters in Doha, Qatar to find out more about that incident. Good morning.
TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol. First, this morning, it was a British plane is missing and no information was available on that plane. Then, a few hours later, they indeed confirmed that they believe the plane was downed as it was returning from a combat mission in Iraq. Not downed by hostile fire, but apparently friendly fire. Early indications are that a Patriot missile may have been fired that brought down this British fighter as it was crossing over the border between Iraq and Kuwait as it returned from a mission. We did get confirmation from Group Air Force Captain Al Lockwood here in Doha just a few hours ago that that is, indeed, what they believe.
CAPT. AL LOCKWOOD, AIR FORCE: Evidence is beginning to come to light that one of our aircraft returning from operations over Iraq last night may have been engaged by a U.S. Patriot missile battery.
MINTIER: So, this is a friendly fire incident, as far as you know it right now.
LOCKWOOD: The evidence is beginning to appear that this may very well have been a friendly fire incident.
MINTIER: The British have expressed their concern for safety in the skies. They now have two incidents, the previous one, two seeking helicopters colliding midair off the aircraft carrier somewhere in the Persian Gulf. No survivors from that accident. Now, it appears that a British Royal Air Force plane has been shot out of the sky by a Patriot missile fired by a U.S. military Patriot missile battery inside Kuwait. A Senior Pentagon official tells CNN that it is, indeed, possible that a Patriot missile brought that down. But, so far, the Pentagon not issuing a confirmation. We still have no idea how many pilots were on the plane, what their fate is, or exactly what type of airplane it was. Carol.
COSTELLO: And, Tom, again, it's strange for us to hear because we usually hear of Patriot missiles intercepting Scud missiles, not war planes.
MINTIER: And, traditionally, the Patriot is an anti-missile defense system that had been deployed, not only in Kuwait, but in other countries, and they've been used already. In the early hours, a couple of Scud missiles were fired and taken out of the sky by the Patriot missile battery. So, the fact that the radar painted, apparently, this British aircraft and then the command was given to launch the Patriot, apparently mistaking it for a Scud, is something that's being investigated right now.
COSTELLO: Tom Mintier, thanks for the update. Live from CENTCOM Command Headquarters in Doha, Qatar. The U.S. Central Command, by the way, will hold its next briefing on the war this afternoon. That happens 2:00 eastern. We'll take it live.
COOPER: And there, of course, has been a lot happening throughout this region. Some very sad, very strange news coming out of Kuwait today at a camp of the 101st Airborne. For all the latest on that, we go to Bill Hemmer in Kuwait City. Bill.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, bottom line, one member of the 101st Airborne Division killed dead today by a member of his own unit. This is the story as we understand it, Anderson. About 1:30 a.m. local time here in Kuwait, Camp Pennsylvania out in the Kuwaiti Desert, the suspect, a member of the 101st Airborne Division, apparently opened small arms fire into a number of different tents near the Operations Center. It's also been said that he'd lobbed perhaps three different grenades inside of these tents. At least two have exploded. Bottom line, one dead, 10 wounded, all 10 airlifted to a nearby medical center run by the U.S. Army in the desert. Two others treated as seen and released. It was described by some as carnage inside one of these tents. And, a Colonel with the 101st gave us a description about what he saw in the middle of the night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I was asleep and my Sergeant Major came back and woke me up, and I immediately smelled smoke, heard a couple of explosions and a popping sound which, I think, was probably a rifle being fired. It looks like some assailant threw a grenade in each of these three tents here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEMMER: No identity released on the dead member of the U.S. Army. No identity given for the suspect, either. And, right now, we don't have a clear motive just yet, as well, given that attack, again, in the middle of the night here in Kuwait. Ryan Chilcote, embedded with the 101st, had been with this unit prior to his departure northern -- into north Iraq, now traveling with a different division in the 101st, and joins us by way of telephone to get more reaction on what we're hearing now about where the U.S. Army. Ryan, hello.
RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Bill. Actually, I'm traveling with the Third Brigade and the soldiers here -- we are inside Iraq. The Third Brigade does not have any soldiers in Camp Pennsylvania, but the soldiers from the Third Brigade, obviously expressing, when they heard about the incident in Camp Pennsylvania, grief. And, too, they're expressing shock as the Commander of the Third Brigade said, Colonel Mike Linnington, "We came here to face the enemy. We didn't expect something from our own soldiers." So, obviously, shock among all the soldiers here that this took place.
Now, for the 101st Airborne's Third Brigade, they are, as you said, inside Iraq now, well inside Iraq. In fact, since the 101st Airborne's Third Brigades left an assembly area in Kuwait, we have been on the road, we have been moving for more than 41 hours, never stopping for more than a couple of hours to refuel. Constant, constant movement.
A quick note about what we have seen. We have traveled through three towns. The first town inside Iraq, the soldiers were greeted by cheering, believe it or not, cheering Iraq, both elderly and young on the streets, waving, shouting and cheering to the troops. The troops tossing the MREs or, as everyone that I'm sure, by now, has heard, Meals Ready to Eat. The soldiers in the field (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the children and they take those away with them.
Last night, we went through town number two. This time, smack through the middle of it in darkness. As one soldier put it, "An entirely different perception." Very, as he put it, "eerie." The Iraqis had blockaded off the bypass en route to the south, so the soldiers had to go straight through. The Commander saying, "It felt like you had all of the ingredients of an ambush." The 101st Unit moving through low ground, surrounded by high ground. There were hundreds of Iraqis milling around, all apparently civilians. This time, none of them waving. All of them just simply watching the troops as they passed through. There was no incident there.
Today, a third town. This, again, a very warm reception. The Iraqis in the town, a small town about a mile long in convoy distance. That's all I'm able to judge it, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) again and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) quite excited to see American troops. I spoke with a couple. They said they first -- they checked to see if the Americans didn't mean any harm to them. They remember the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that had been there during '91. They wanted to make sure that they were here to stay. Once we assured that, they said, "We're glad to see you." Very importantly, actually, I will tell you that the 101st Airborne Third Brigade has set up what is called a (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
HEMMER: All right. It sounds like we lost our connection there with Ryan. Ryan Chilcote traveling with the Third Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, again. If you listen to Ryan's reporting, clearly, these men are on the move and quickly. Forty-one hours without stopping. One has to wonder when relief comes and how they get it but, obviously, moving rather unimpeded now through that portion of southern Iraq. Again, more as we get it from Kuwait. Back to Anderson now at the CNN Center.
COOPER: All right, Bill. Thanks very much. We were just briefly, right before you came, listening to a press conference a little bit given by Iraq's Vice -- the Vice President of Iraq. We're going to show you some of that now. This is from the Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan. Just, ominously, he made a statement just a little while ago, while we were in Kuwait. He has said that Iraq has some POWs and that they will be appearing on Iraqi TV. Of course, this is not -- no one can confirm whether or not this is true at all. This is -- he's also made several other rather interesting statements in the last several minutes while he's been on. He says that it is a "complete illusion," in his words, that there's a division in the Iraqi leadership. He says that U.S. forces are not as close to Baghdad as has been portrayed. Also, you'll remember a press conference the Iraqis gave the day before, in which they said -- we've seen these people surrendering, that they are actually people recruited by the U.S. forces dressed up to look like Iraqis and to pretend to surrender. So, a variety of interesting statements that come out of the Iraqi leadership. Of course, the headline in all of this in this press conference, beyond what he is saying, is the fact that we are actually seeing him live, in person.
There had been some speculation several days ago that Taha Yassin Ramadan, the Vice President of Iraq, was perhaps dead, killed in that initial decapitation strike, as the U.S. called it. That apparently, obviously, at this point, not the case. He is in Baghdad at this moment speaking live, being carried on Iraqi television. Just so you -- in case you do not know who this man is, he is the Vice President of Iraq. He oversaw the killing of the Kurds in northern Iraq in 1988. Also, is the man who reportedly led the military action to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Shia uprising in southern Iraq back in 1991, just to give you some context on who this man is. We are going to go right now to Art Harris, who is traveling somewhere in Iraq and, I believe, is seeing some surrenderings. Art, what can you tell us?
ART HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, I am on the banks of the Euphrates River at a checkpoint with the U.S. Marines in southern Iraq. And, for the last five hours, have been watching them search people as they come across a bridge, stop cars as they come up a dirt road. Many of these people are in civilian clothes and robes. They patted them down, made some of them lay on the ground, and they have found military uniforms in bags that they've been carrying -- some of them. And so, they have detained them. They've got about 50 so far, Anderson, and many of them say they are just going home. Some have walked more than 100 miles.
They say they've come from Basra, that they have either deserted or just were following what the U.S. leaflets have said to do, which is to go home, not to fight -- not to fight the military, that they don't have a chance. And, they appear to be, some of them, well fed, some of them haggard, but very peaceful. And, the U.S. Marine translator has told me that many of them have similar stories. Some seem to be very afraid. One young man was screaming and flashing and trying not to get up when the Marines insisted he come with the others, and they found on him a photograph of himself and two friends, he said, in military uniform. He said those friends had been killed, he had served in the north. Whether that was true or not, the translator said he would need another translator to come in and find out because he spoke better Arabic and Numidians (ph) -- Anderson.
COOPER: Art, what can you tell us -- just, what you have been through in the last day or so. What is the mood of the Marines that you are traveling with? Do you feel like you're making good progress? Do they feel like they're making good progress?
HARRIS: Yes, Anderson. I've spent two days crossing the southern Iraqi Desert with them until we got to the Euphrates, and they're amazingly upbeat. I mean, they've seem, on the one hand, frustrated they haven't been able to join the fight more. There have been several light resistance incidences. They've been -- their position has been mortared once, before they got into it, responded to several gas attacks, which then we were given the "all clear." And, you know, artillery going off nearby, but they -- you know, they are relieved, as one sergeant has told the young -- the young Marines, "Be careful what you wish for." And, some of them, this morning, getting back to the POWs, it's the first time they've really been able to do something hands-on, as it were, whether it's patting people down, frisking them, reluctant and even, in a couple of cases, angry when the people they had caught were released, believed not to be a threat. One man that was released, Anderson, the Marines thought better of it. He admitted to being in the Iraqi military and said he was going home. They sent several young Marines down the road to chase him down and bring him back. So, about 50 of them, Anderson, are now about -- oh, 200 yards from me, under a bridge in the shade, where they're drinking water and eating MREs. And, they're waiting to be disposed and, as the Marines put it, a hospitable action.
COOPER: So, exactly where -- you dropped out on that last phrase. What happens to those 50 who have surrendered thus far? Where do they go, and does that slow the Marines down at all?
HARRIS: Well, the Marine unit I'm with is here for the moment until, again, and so it's not going to slow them down. What the value (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Iraqi soldiers (UNINTELLIGIBLE) going home.
COOPER: OK. We're losing Art Harris, but we understand that he's saying about 50 Iraqis have given up in the position that he is in with the U.S. Marines.
COSTELLO: Yes. And, of course, another problem. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Iraqi civilians fleeing their homes, trying to find someplace safe to go, and they end up at these giant refugee camps. That's where Jane Arraf is right now. She's in Iraqi Kurdistan in northern Iraq in a tent city. You could say that, couldn't you, Jane?
JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You could, Carol. It's unofficially a tent city. These are people among the hundreds of thousands who have fled the cities in northern Iraq, as you mentioned. And, there are thousands of them, perhaps up to 8,000 or 10,000 still living in shelters like this. Now, these people, particularly -- it's about 50 or 60 families, and they have come from a checkpoint near Iraqi government territory where, in a place near the Rashanka (ph) Village, which is about 25 miles from Doehook (ph). Now, you can see that they're trying to make life as normal as possible. This is Sitsi (ph) who you're seeing here and she's making bread for her family. They're basically living on bread and potatoes and rice and very basic.
Now, food isn't the big problem here, but one of the big problems is that it's absolutely freezing. It's really cold just standing out here for even a few minutes and these families have been out here for five days. You can see the tents, as well, in the background. They're makeshift tents. They've put them together themselves. A lot of them are stitched together with pieces of old sacks and plastic, and the reason they're here -- the reason they're in such terrible condition, as they say, they're terrified of a chemical attack by Iraqi forces.
In fact, these people are telling us that this is the third time that they've run from the Iraqi forces. And, one of the touching things is they're asking when the Americans are going to come. They say they wouldn't be afraid if American forces were here. Now, as we mentioned, there are tens of thousands of people in this situation. The kids here are getting sick, there are people getting sick all over the place. And, to talk to us about what the government here is doing about that, we have an emergency official, Sac dab Sirhan (ph), who is the emergency coordinator for the regional government of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, which controls this part of northern Iraq. Thanks very much for joining us out here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thank you.
ARRAF: Can you tell us, first of all, what are you going to do for people like this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we have in our program, we have built 1,320 houses, newly houses for our own IDPs. What we're going to do is we're going to accommodate theses people, place them in these houses. And, we are doing this -- we are working on this program since four days ago. So, it's a question of -- a matter of a couple of days, these people will be looked after very well.
ARRAF: Did this take you by surprise? I mean, we're not now seeing refugees from Iraqi government controlled territory. These are, essentially, refugees in their own country. These are people who came from Kurdish territory. Is that a surprise to you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's not a surprise to us. We expected that our people might leave the towns and the cities and flee to the mountains. We did expect that, and even that we are working closely with some U.N. agencies, some NGOs, and we are preparing -- we are setting up camps and -- around the whole city, and we have located a number of sites. So far, we have (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for the camps, which can accommodate up to 1,000 families.
ARRAF: So, how many refugees are you prepared for? Let's say there is fighting and Mosul and Kirkuk fall, and people flood over the borders. How many can you take care of?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can -- we can -- we've been preparing for half a million refugees from Iraqi control there, yes. We are preparing for half a million, recently.
ARRAF: And, what would be the biggest problem in caring for these refugees?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The biggest problem will be the immediate intervention by some U.N. agencies. We have shortages in tents, a local (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and we have a lot of shortages. The supplies we have here in northern Iraq -- it's very limited. We have very limited resources. We have very limited capability to deal with such number. But, with the -- with the supplies we have, it's all -- we can accommodate for up to 500,000 people.
ARRAF: Now, in 1991, of course, the world saw just horrendous scenes of refugees, some of them freezing in the mountains. Are we likely to see those kinds of scenes again?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Because, back in 1991, we didn't have a -- we didn't have a system in place. We didn't have an administration. Now, we have a system in place, we have an administration and, back in 1991, we had more than 4,000 villages were destroyed. Since then, most of these villages have been rebuilt, so these villages will be -- they will take in a lot of people.
ARRAF: And, finally, you were saying that some people have actually started to go back to the cities. They're heeding government calls saying it's safe, they can go back. Why aren't we seeing more going back, though?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are feeling immediate danger is not there because a lot of heavy artillery has actually removed from the border with Kurdistan. The Iraqi government -- the Iraqi military has actually pulled back to the cities like Baghdad and Tikrit, so that's why people have felt that it's safe and so some of them are actually going back. Most of the children and the women are staying behind, but the -- actually, the men are going, but I can just still feel that, you know, Saddam might launch a rocket attack or a chemical attack.
ARRAF: Thank you so much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
ARRAF: That was the emergency coordinator for the regional government here telling us that, although some people are starting to go back to the villages, there are still a lot more like these families we've seen here, out in the cold. Carol.
COSTELLO: I'm just struck by how many children are standing there watching you and you talk about a possible chemical attack. Is there any protection for those people?
ARRAF: There is absolutely none. This is probably one of the few places that is the most vulnerable, where people have absolutely no protection. In fact, we're not very far from the Iraqi line of control so people would be very vulnerable here. And, the reason they are so terrified, the reason they fled, is that they have memories of chemical attacks on Kurdish villages in the 1980s, but this isn't a government that can provide any protection for their people as that kind of system just isn't in place. And, the only protection they really have, the only precautions they're taking is trying to run away, essentially. Carol.
COSTELLO: Jane Arraf reporting live from Iraqi Kurdistan in northern Iraq this morning.
COOPER: All right. We are going to go from that northern Iraq location to somewhere in the Persian Gulf. That's all we can say about the location. And, our own Bob Franken. Bob, what can you tell us?
BOB FRANKEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, the location is at an air base, a U.S. air base -- U.S. air base near the Iraq (UNINTELLIGIBLE) where we are at a part of the air base that is -- that is devoted to CSAR, that is, Combat Search and Rescue. I usually avoid the acronyms, but it is very much a part of the story.
Most of this information is classified, but you'll probably be able to piece it together by what I can tell you. This is where the helicopters are called to go out and pick up downed pilots and the like. At about 4:30 this morning, which would have been 8:30 last night eastern time, the helicopters were called out for a Search and Rescue mission. Now, I will point out that these helicopters usually go into what the United States would consider enemy territory. We can't tell you the first mission they were called out on, but they were diverted from that mission and went to a second Search and Rescue operation. In this particular case, when they lowered to the ground, they came under small arms fire but were able to, in fact, complete their mission. That is all I can tell you.
I cannot, at this particular point, give you more specifics than that. Then, they went to a third effort before they came back. No word on the outcome of that one. This was an effort that has lasted for many hours. The people here are back on the ground. Now, the reason that they say that they classify all this information, and reporters oftentimes object, is they say that, by giving away the nature of the searches and the rescues, they would be compromising information that they don't want the other side to have.
But, the one thing to point out, of course, as far as these missions are concerned -- at least, one of them, there are news reports, there is information from the Pentagon and the British Defense Ministry that a British jet was shot down. A British jet was shot down but that the crew was still missing. We know that that's public. We can't talk at all about whether these people here were involved in the searches for that crew. I will also point out that, among the jets that fly from here, are some with the British Royal Air Force. Although we have no information that the jet that was shot down near the border between Kuwait and Iraq -- we have no information that that jet came from this airport. Now, this is an airport that has been very busy during the recent attacks on Iraq.
As a matter of fact, the number of Sorties, the number that has gone up on a regular basis, they were at 250 in the 24-hour period that ended eastern time about 10:00 last night. They now have gone up to 296 for the period that ended last night. They had been at 250. So, that's a jump. It's been jumping every day and, of course, with all the combat operations that go on, it's inevitable that there are going to be needs for the Search and Rescue people here. The people here at CSAR call themselves the "911 of the U.S. Air Force" -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Bob. I understand that there's a lot you cannot say and you're very limited on what you can say. I just want to try to get as much information out and clarify as much of what you said as possible. We have heard these reports. We have been reporting this all morning about this British jet shot down.
What you can say is that, in this place where you are, where they conduct Search and Rescue operations, at 4:30 a.m., while undergoing one operation, they were called upon to another operation. And, in the total -- and, correct me, please, if I'm wrong -- there were a total of three operations. Can you say if that is correct? And, if so, how many of those were successful? Can you say?
FRANKEN: There were three operations. One, they've called a success. One, they say is unresolved. And, the first one they were called out on, they were diverted from. Now, again, they were called out at about 8:30 p.m. last night, eastern time, 4:30 this morning. So, perhaps, somebody will want to figure out just when it was when the British jet went down, and perhaps you can put two and two together.
COOPER: Yes. Perhaps our arithmetic is quite advanced to that degree. All right, Bob Franken, thank you very much for reporting what you can. I understand -- very limited in what you can say, and appreciate you joining us. Thanks, Bob.
COSTELLO: There have been so many things happening today. We had a fire fight in Umm Qasr and another fire fight in south central Iraq. We want to get some military perspective. General Grange is in the house. We're going to get to him in just a minute but, first, we're going to take a break. COOPER: Let's get a look at the latest developments at this hour. U.S. and British military officials say a Patriot missile may have downed a British warplane returning from a mission over Iraq. The Royal Air Force plane is missing. It's believed the plane went down in Kuwait. The incident happened near the border with Iraq. Bob Franken just reported there have been several Search and Rescue operations. No further information at this time.
In south central Iraq, members of the U.S. Army's Seventh Cavalry are battling a battalion-sized Iraqi force. Despite the fighting, our Walter Rogers is with the Apache troop of the Seventh Cav, tells us the unit is running ahead of schedule. Our correspondent also tells us one of the Cavalry's Humvees took a direct hit by an RPG, by a Rocket Propelled Grenade. None of the soldiers inside was hurt.
What you're looking at next is going to be the fighting at Umm Qasr. There it is. The Iraqi port taken the other day by U.S. Marines and British troops. The Marines are mopping up pockets of resistance in the area. It was quite a mopping up operation. In the last couple hours, we've been watching live right here on CNN. Tanks were called into this part of the city to take out Iraqi troops using small arms fire. That operation, as far as we know at this point, is over.
For a third night, strategic targets were bombed in the northern Iraqi cities of Mosul and Kirkuk. Both, of course, major oil production centers. Now, U.S. Marines have been battling Iraqi forces near Basra, calling in Cobra attack helicopters.
And, despite images of surrendering Iraqis, Iraq's Information Minister says coalition forces were in "Shock and Awe" of Iraqi resistance and would ultimately be defeated.
A U.S. soldier attached to the 101st Airborne Division is in custody. It is a sad and strange story. In custody for allegedly attacking his fellow soldiers. One soldier is known to have died. A dozen are injured, some of them seriously. The suspect's identity has not been made public, but he is said to be a sergeant with an engineering unit. That is a picture of what is the man believed to be the suspect in this case. He was found hiding in a bunker about an hour after grenades were tossed into those command tents.
And, those are the headlines making news this hour. There is a lot happening. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news. Now, back to our coverage of war on Iraq.
COSTELLO: And, let's look now at the territory. Coalition forces have been moving through today and overnight. U.S. and British troops have taken the Faw Peninsula and are now wrapping up resistance at the port of Umm Qasr.
U.S. forces also have taken control of one airfield in western Iraq. You see it marked H3 on this graphic, this map you're seeing. Military officials previously indicated a second airfield at H2 -- you can see that, too, on the map. That had been taken, too. They say now that is not the case. And now, we want to go to Bill Hemmer, who's live in Kuwait, for that very strange story out of Camp Pennsylvania.
COOPER: Yes. It's very sad.
COSTELLO: Where one of America's own lobbed at least two grenades into a tent of commanders. Camp Pennsylvania in New York, part of the 101st Airborne Division. Bill, can you tell us more?
HEMMER: Yes, Carol. Still trying to piece this together. These are the facts as we know them. One-thirty a.m. local time here in Kuwait, Camp Pennsylvania, headquarters for the remaining portions of the 101st Airborne Division that have yet to advance into Iraq. It was about 1:30 a.m. this morning when one of the members of the First Brigade had opened up small arms fire into possibly as many as three different tents housing the Operations Center. And, also, lobbing at least three grenades, two of which have exploded inside.
And, again, this could have taken place in one or three different tent areas, and there's a "TIME" magazine reporter on the scene who told us here that the suspect, whose identity has not yet been released, may have been on the run for as long as 45 minutes, hiding in a bunker nearby before he was found. You'll see some video tape. You may have seen it already -- of the suspect being held by other members of the 101st Airborne. Again, identity not given out just yet, neither is any given of those who have been wounded and killed. One member of the 101st is dead as a result. Ten others were wounded, all 10 medevaced to a nearby Army hospital. We are told, Carol, that some of them have critical wounds but we don't have much more information after that. In addition, two others were wounded, treated at the scene and, since then, they have been released.
Ryan Chilcote is with the 101st Third Brigade. He had been with the full unit earlier in the week. In fact, if you go back to Fort Campbell in Kentucky weeks ago, Ryan started his journey back to Kuwait from there. Ryan has since moved into southern Iraq. We talked to him about 30 minutes ago. He says that the news travels fast within the 101st and a lot of members in his unit apparently shocked, as you can imagine, right now, given the news that one of their own has turned on and killed a member of the 101st. Ryan also indicates, though, that his unit continues to move up through southern Iraq. He said, at one point today, Carol, that they had been moving for 41 hours unimpeded. He mentioned three different towns they've passed through, varying reactions from the Iraqi people, depending on which towns they go through. But, they continue to move at what appears to be a pretty good clip, at this point. But, again, the news back in Kuwait, not good. One dead, 101st Airborne Division, killed as a result of the attack from his own unit earlier today. Carol.
COSTELLO: Yes. Earlier, we had spoken to a "TIME" magazine reporter, Bill, and he said, as this person was lobbing those grenades into the tent, he yelled, "You're under attack! You're under attack!" I know Daryn Kagan tried to get to Camp Pennsylvania earlier this morning. Was she able to get close?
HEMMER: Was not, no. That's my understanding, based on the information I have, but you make a good point here. The eye witnesses near the scene who saw this today, woken up in the middle of the night. And, one person described inside of one of these tents as to being "complete carnage." So, it was not a scene that anyone at that unit had anticipated. And, what you'll hear from the members of the Army is that they come half way around the world to fight, in their words, "the enemy," in this case, the Iraqis, and not to fight against their own.
COSTELLO: Yes. And, I'm just reading this "TIME" magazine article. It's also on CNN.com. And, apparently, military criminal investigators said the suspect was recently reprimanded for insubordination and was told he would stay behind when his unit left camp for Iraq. Of course, we're efforting (ph) all sorts of information on this bizarre incident and we'll let you get back to work there in Kuwait. Bill Hemmer reporting live from Kuwait City.
HEMMER: Thanks, Carol.
COOPER: Well, the U.S. Central Command is going to hold its next briefing on the war this afternoon at 2:00 Eastern. British and U.S. military officials say a British Royal Air Force plane is missing. They say it may have been shot down accidentally by a Patriot missile.
Let's see what else we can find out about this from Chris Plante at the Pentagon.
CHRIS PLANTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson. That's right. A British jet on its way back from upper Iraq, a combat mission, headed toward the Kuwaiti border and, apparently, at this point, officials believe that a U.S. Army Patriot missile in place there to shoot down incoming Iraqi missiles was fired. And, apparently, according to what they can tell from what they know now, shot down this British warplane. Search and Rescue efforts were launched a short time afterward, when they realized that a British plane was missing. The fate of the pilot or pilots, still not known. Very little in the way of detail being released by the military. It was likely either a one seat or a two seat fighter plane off on a mission in Iraq and was on its way back at the time. Anderson.
COOPER: Chris, Bob Franken, who was reporting from a base somewhere in the Persian Gulf, we'll say, reported that there were several search and rescue operations. He really was very limited on what he can say. Do you have any information on any of those operations? He said one of the them was successful, one, the status was unknown. I know that we just heard this, literally, moments ago. You probably don't have anything on it. I just want to check.
PLANTE: I don't have a status report on the Search and Rescue operations as of the last few minutes, Anderson. But, I can tell you that this is something that they take very, very seriously, a situation of friendly fire is obviously something that they go to great lengths to try to avoid seeing happen. It's particularly tragic. People are killed in combat, but friendly fire makes matters all the worse, and it's what the U.S. military calls "fratricide," meaning that the killing of a brother. And, it's a very common, unfortunately, event in combat situations, which are often very chaotic and the management of air space, particularly in areas where you're concerned about incoming missiles from an enemy force, can be -- can be a very difficult challenge. In the 1991 Gulf War, of the 146 Americans that were killed in combat, 35 of those were as a result of friendly fire. And, of the 16 British troops killed in the 1991 Gulf War, nine of those -- more than half of those, were as a result of friendly fire.
COOPER: It is -- it is sad stuff. Chris Plante, thanks very much. Carol.
COSTELLO: All right. It's 5:41 Eastern time, early on Sunday morning. We want to recap for you now the developments from the past several hours. Ten-twelve a.m. Eastern time, CNN's Walt Rogers reports the Seventh Cavalry's advance toward Baghdad is stalled about 160 miles south of Baghdad after an encounter with Iraqi troops. He's going to tell us more about that. Quite bizarre.
Eleven-twenty-one a.m. Eastern, 7:21 p.m. in Iraq. In the skies over Baghdad, aircraft are heard and tracer fire flashes are seen.
Twelve-fifteen p.m., sources tell CNN U.S. troops will escort Kuwaiti firefighters to Iraqi oil fields to put out blazes set by the Iraqis.
At 2:52 Eastern time, after reports that up to three U.S. missiles missed their Iraqi target and landed in southwestern Iran, State Department Correspondent, Andrea Koppel, is reporting the U.S. and Iran are working to hold off a potential diplomatic crisis. Apparently, those were Iraqi rockets.
Three-thirty p.m. Eastern, 11:30 p.m. Baghdad time, more air raid sirens and more explosions in the Iraqi capital. And, Reuters is reporting parts of the city were plunged into darkness.
At 4:00 p.m. Eastern, the Pentagon releases war stats. Seven Americans confirmed dead, up to 2,000 Iraqi soldiers are prisoners of war, and pilots have flown more than 1,000 combat Sorties since Friday's Shock and Awe Campaign began.
Six-sixteen p.m. yesterday, 13 people at the 101st Airborne Division camp in northern Kuwait were injured by small arms fire and grenades. Later, one soldier dies of his wounds. U.S. Central Command reports one U.S. soldier in custody in connection with that attack.
All right. We want to get some military expertise here because a lot has been happening this morning. Fire fight battles in Umm Qasr in southeastern Iraq. And, also, a fire fight in south central Iraq with the Seventh Cavalry. That's where Walter Rogers is. Want to join our military desk with CNN's Renay San Miguel. And, he's joined by Major Grange, I believe. RENAY SAN MIGUEL, CNN ANCHOR: That's exactly right. Thank you very much, Carol. Our job here is to give you some analysis on the events of the past few hours, and also advance things for you and try to tell you what to expect in the day ahead. For that, we are joined by CNN Military Analyst, retired Army General David Grange. Good morning to you.
BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Good morning.
SAN MIGUEL: Thanks for getting up early. Let's start off with the situation at Umm Qasr. We have some digital imagery, some satellite imagery, provided by Earthviewer.com and Digitalglobe.com. This is the very important port town, if you will. I'm not sure we can call it a city. Right there on the inlet that leads into the Persian Gulf, very near the border of -- with Kuwait. And, the idea here is that we had heard it was under control, but not -- it was secure, but not necessarily controlled. Give us the difference, here.
GRANGE: Well, what happened -- the coalition forces, right now, control the overall area. In other words, they have control over the skies, they are occupying key terrain, maybe at high ground, road intersections, whatever. But, they have not secured the entire area, and that takes a considerable amount of time. Now, as units progress, you can't -- it doesn't look like every square foot, in other words, is totally under control.
And, even if they go through and clear it one time, it doesn't mean that someone can't move back into it from a building or hiding in a ditch, or whatever the case may be. So, this is going to happen continually during this war.
SAN MIGUEL: OK. And, also, they want to make sure -- the Pentagon wants to make sure that it doesn't halt the forward advance towards Baghdad.
GRANGE: Exactly. The momentum has to continue on as you're designated to do these mop-up operations.
SAN MIGUEL: Let's talk a little bit now about something different here. The Patriot situation. The reports that we have heard that a British airplane may have been shot down by a Patriot. We have some graphics here to show you. Some of the research I have dug up about the Patriot Pac-3, the new and improved, if you will, Patriot missile system, is that its radar range has been extended. The range is secret. The Army is not telling us exactly what that is. Maybe that -- a situation where this was improved maybe too much for its own good?
GRANGE: No. I think what happened -- just think of the skies right now.
SAN MIGUEL: Yes.
GRANGE: Over 1,000 combat Sorties they're talking about.
So, think how many hundreds of aircraft are flying every night, to include rockets being fired from our side, a few Iraqi missiles. So, what happens is you have these identification, friend or foe, signals that all our aircraft have.
And, maybe it wasn't working. And so, they couldn't identify it right away, and it just may have been a human error, a mistake, that this happens. So, you know, fratricide, friendly fire accidents, happen.
We don't know for sure that's what did happen. They believe so from the reports. But, again, it's a sad thing about war but it happened and it's going to continue to happen.
SAN MIGUEL: OK. We want to now talk a little bit about the propaganda situation. Now, we have heard the phrase "Shock and Awe" used by both sides in this conflict. And, what we just heard the Iraqi Vice President talking about they may have POWs and that the situation is not what has been explained. It sounds -- obviously, they're watching the coverage of what's going on, and it's now time for them to get their side of things out. Who's the audience here?
GRANGE: Sure. First of all, that's funny about the phrase "Shock and Awe." It's not really a doctrinal term.
And, I guess it's kind of catchy, since the enemy are using it now, as well.
But, what they're doing -- the audience, right now, from the Iraqi announcements, is the people in Baghdad. Yes, some of them have access to BBC, CNN, different -- you know, news outlets. But, they're trying to get the word out and saying that we're putting out propaganda. And, in fact, of course, they're putting out disinformation in that just to convince the people, "Hey, we're doing fine. Hang on, there." You know, and continue with their propaganda effort. Information is very powerful.
And, people are really thirsty for this information in Baghdad. I mean, you can imagine what they know in Baghdad. Think about the troops down south.
They get no information. They may have a transistor radio, but that's about it, so it's the fog of war for the Iraqi army is really nil.
SAN MIGUEL: Let's talk about the situation down south and what we could expect for the day. We've heard about Walter Rogers' reporting on some of the south central Iraqi activity going on. Tell us what you expect today and use the pointer if you could, please.
SAN MIGUEL: To tell us what you expect in terms of movements.
GRANGE: Well, we'll continue to have the mopping up operations down around south of Basra on the -- in that Basra area.
As they continue, the First Marine Expeditionary Force continues to drive forward to their objectives, presumably north of Basra.
SAN MIGUEL: OK.
GRANGE: Third Infantry Division, has already done the river crossing, as we know, supposedly, 160 miles from Baghdad. That's probably the leading elements. If that's, in fact, the case, maybe reconnaissance elements. There's an announcement that they're stalled -- they may be stalled. But, actually, they're probably refueling or refitting.
Getting ready for the next phase of the operation. They talked about the 101st somewhere out in the Iraqi Desert. Don't know where they are. Their mission, as it's executed, why that unit's moving will be a surprise to us, I hope.
SAN MIGUEL: OK.
GRANGE: That way, it will be a surprise to the enemy, as well.
Over here, we talked about H3. The first reports said that both airfields were taken. It would surprise me if they weren't able to take the H2, H1, all this whole complex of airfields because, I think, these are objectives that are not -- would not be that difficult to take down. And, that's probably the plan.
And then, of course, up north, something eventually is going to have to happen up north besides the Special Operating Forces working in this area. You'll see future operations in there and, of course, we've just seen the bombing.
SAN MIGUEL: OK.
GRANGE: Actual bombing up here which may be in preparation for future operations up north.
SAN MIGUEL: And, also, the campaign continues from the air, but to get more ground troops in that area, it would be good to have these air bases right here to be able to launch those kinds of operations.
GRANGE: Exactly. One other thing that, on the movement up north, they're getting closer now to the tougher Iraqi units.
Republican Guard, just like the Medina Divisions. And so, this is going to be most likely stiffer resistance and you can expect some more intense fighting as they get north.
SAN MIGUEL: This is what everybody has been talking about, that it's going to get tougher and, also, the terrain situation is also going to get a little bit tougher.
SAN MIGUEL: In terms of tanks and kind of urban combat we've been talking about. General David Grange, thanks for joining us. We'll talk to you again later in the hour.
SAN MIGUEL: Back to you.
COSTELLO: Renay, don't let the General leave yet because we have more questions for him.
SAN MIGUEL: OK.
GRANGE: All right.
COSTELLO: I was just wondering about how well the Iraqi Army is equipped. I mean, we know we have these rocket propelled grenades. We know they have Russian made machine guns. But, the strangest find was made in south central Iraq with Walter Rogers and the Seventh Cavalry. A pink pick-up truck, Japanese made, with a machine gun mounted on it, and sticker on the front window that said, "New York Police, NYPD."
GRANGE: Yes. I don't know. You know, it looks like something you would have seen in Somalia during the fighting there, where they -- where machine guns were placed on civilian vehicles. So, yes, that was an unusual photograph that was captured and I don't know why that would be in the area.
COSTELLO: It was just strange. I mean, as far as you can tell right now, though, how well do you equip -- how well do you think the Iraqi soldiers are equipped?
GRANGE: Well, yes, again, they're fighting the regular Army units, which are not equipped as well as the Republican Guard units. But, you know -- like, for instance, the RPG attack that hit the Humvee of the Cavalry unit, the soldiers in that vehicle are very lucky. RPGs are very dangerous weapons, especially with a soft vehicle like a Humvee, and so they are very fortunate that they survived that hit. And, those are the type of things you'll see, especially around buildings, built up areas, when you're fighting any of the Iraqi units. Now, as their forces get further north, they're going to -- they're going to encounter better equipment, more advanced tanks and armored personnel carriers and troops that are -- that have more -- higher state of morale and better weapons.
COSTELLO: All right, General Grange. Thanks for joining us this morning. We sure appreciate your insight.
COOPER: I just want to give a little bit of an update. Reuters is now reporting that the U.S. says that no planes in the U.S.-led force have been shot down; therefore, no prisoners taken. This statement made because Iraq's Vice President appeared on television, Iraqi TV, just shortly -- a little while ago, said that you're going to see POWs paraded in front of the cameras, appearing on Iraqi TV shortly. So, this response apparently from Reuters, quoting -- saying U.S. says no planes in the U.S.-led force have been shot down. Therefore, no prisoners taken. So, simply, you're not going to see it on Iraqi TV.
COSTELLO: Yes. Didn't you say five American warplanes were shot down -- the Iraqi Vice President? I believe he did.
COOPER: Yes. He made a wide variety of statements. But, we're going to go to a short break. When we come back, we're going to take a look at Nic Robertson, a father of four, about his journey out of Iraq. We'll be right back.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: President Saddam Hussein's palaces erupt in flames. Just across the river, residential neighborhoods shake with each detonation. Not to say civilians aren't injured or killed in these bombing raids, they are. And, Iraqi officials press this issue with journalists to raise opposition to the war. "Casualties on civilians, up to now, we have in hospital 207 injured children, women and other civilians. We are going to take you, if you like, to visit them." But, not CNN. The morning after the bombing, an eerie but temporary lull. For CNN, though, time to leave. Our office closed, the staff forced out on the order of the Information Minister.
"Wow, look at it -- look at it down there, the damage. Look at those buildings." On the road through Baghdad, a chance to see the damage close up and, with our government minder in another car, a chance to video more fully what's happening around town. In most neighborhoods, armed Baath party officials loiter menacingly on street corners. At the city's main boundary checkpoint, I'm able to snatch a shot. It doesn't look heavily defended.
Further from Baghdad, we see fewer and fewer military installations. Only the occasional sighting of the army on the move, an indication Iraq is focusing its efforts defending Baghdad. We're heading west out of the city now, across the desert towards Jordan. We may run into some problems on the road. U.S. forces have taken airfields known as H2 and H3 about 50 miles, 70 kilometers or so from the Jordanian border. Near the airfields, shot up vehicles become a more common sight. Smoke rising from recently bombed buildings indicate some coalition presence. And, for a reason we can't immediately understand, a large hole has been blasted in a bridge.
Out of the danger zone, our team, Correspondent Rym Brahimi, Executive Producer, Ingrid Formanek, and Cameraman, Brian Puchaty, make it safely to more friendly territory. Nic Robertson, CNN, just over the Iraqi border in Jordan.
COSTELLO: And, just because Nic Robertson is back doesn't mean his job is done. He'll be joining us later -- later on this morning to talk about his experiences and to offer his expertise on what's happening in Baghdad.
Let's go to Kuwait City now and Bill Hemmer. Is something up there, Bill? HEMMER: No, there's not, Carol. But, our guest has arrived. David Ignatius, a writer for the Washington Post, now joining us here in Kuwait City. This is a man who, yesterday, went into southern Iraq, and we're going to talk to him right now about his experience. Good afternoon to you. Nice to see you, David.
DAVID IGNATIUS, "WASHINGTON POST": Hi.
HEMMER: Listen. You went in unescorted. I guess, to let our viewers understand, you were not an embedded journalist. You're what we call unilateral. You make the decision to go in on your own without the escort of the U.S. military. Your experience over several hours yesterday was what?
IGNATIUS: Well, it began very early. Around 4:00 a.m., we left for the border and we -- there were some vehicles of other unilateral journalists waiting at the border. The border remained closed so, at about 5:00, we went along the DMZ and managed to sneak in. I won't say exactly how, but we found a way to get in. And then, we began to operate and do what journalists do, which is to try to go to places and see things and talk to people.
Some of the things that we saw and did that are relevant. First, the first thing we tried to do was to go to Umm Qasr, which the Americans had announced that had been captured the day before. Well, guess what? As we tried to get towards the center of Umm Qasr, we were waved back. A French TV crew was fleeing and, because I speak French, I was able to ask them what was going on. They said, "It's just too dangerous. They're shooting there. You know, you haven't taken the city. Iraqi soldiers are in civilian gear but they're shooting." So, it's clear, that city hadn't been taken. You know, as an independent journalist, you were able to verify that yourself.
We then tried to go into Basra, and that road, too, was very insecure. Some of our colleagues did go down the road at that time or later, and some of them seemed to have ended up getting killed yesterday. There were a number of journalists who were killed yesterday doing what I was doing.
HEMMER: So, you were seeing a very insecure area, much like the images we're seeing with the embedded journalists, as well.
IGNATIUS: You know, we're seeing an insecure southern Iraq, we're seeing a strategy of racing toward Baghdad and leaving the cities of southern Iraq, essentially, you know, uncaptured. And, what the Americans are finding is that they're now having to fight very tough battles in Umm Qasr and Basra to secure those areas and make them safe. And, I think that, in that sense, we're seeing some snags in the American war plan that are important. Important, especially in terms of thinking about what will happen when they get to Baghdad.
HEMMER: David Ignatius, "Washington Post." Thanks for your thoughts.
IGNATIUS: Thank you, Bill.
HEMMER: Here's Carol again in Atlanta.
COSTELLO: All right. Thanks so much, Bill. We're going to start our 6:00 Eastern time hour here on CNN, and we're going to take a look at what's happening at this hour.
A four-hour engagement between the U.S. Marines and Iraqi forces in Umm Qasr ended with air strikes and the Iraqis being taken prisoner. The entire drama unfolded live on television, right here on CNN. A Marine sergeant said sporadic gunfire had been coming from a building that you can see in the distance there for two days. Now, the number of Iraqis inside that building turned out to be significantly larger than the Marines first thought. And, the battle then required tanks and then eventually required air strikes to defeat the Iraqis inside.
CNN's Walter Rogers, embedded with the Army's Seventh Cavalry, reports that one of the unit's Humvees took a direct hit from an Iraqi rocket grenade. There were no casualties, amazingly enough. Now, this unit has been dealing with a dug in Iraqi position in south central Iraq for much of the day, hitting a stockpile of Iraqi ammunition with an artillery shell. That's the smoke you see in the background there. Despite the halt, though, the troop commander says he is ahead of schedule and in his advance to Baghdad. The unit also took three Iraqis prisoner.
Iraq's Vice President says Iraq is holding U.S. prisoners of war. He adds, "Iraq will show them to you on Iraqi television." But, U.S. Central Command has not reported any American troops taken prisoner.
U.S. and British military officials say a Patriot missile may have downed a British war plane. Now, those officials say a Patriot missile battery near the Iraq/Kuwait border may have locked on and shot down the Royal Air Force plane as it was returning from a mission over Iraq. The crew is missing.
A soldier attached to 101st Airborne Division is now suspected of throwing grenades into three command tents at a camp in northern Kuwait, Camp Pennsylvania, we're talking about. One soldier is dead, 12 more are injured. Military officials say the soldier was recently reprimanded for insubordination.
And, anti-war demonstrations are growing larger and louder. In New York City, a few skirmishes with police erupted yesterday as up to 200,000 people marched down Broadway. Also, in Washington, several hundred protesters clogged traffic near the White House. And, in Chicago, more than 1,000 demonstrators massed for competing rallies.
And, those are the headlines making news this hour. You are watching CNN, the most trusted name in news. Now, back to our coverage on the strike on Iraq.
And, these are live pictures from Baghdad, where more explosions were heard today as the coalition forces enter day four of the war in Iraq.
COOPER: And, people around the world watch a battle unfold at Umm Qasr earlier this morning. Maybe you at home are watching it with us. The battle occurred as U.S. Marines cleared pockets of resistance. It was quite dramatic. Good morning, everyone. It is Sunday. That is some of the video, some of the images we were showing earlier this morning. It is Sunday, March 23. From Atlanta, I'm Anderson Cooper.
COSTELLO: And, I'm Carol Costello. Thank you for joining us.
COOPER: It's been quite a morning. We're going to get an early briefing now on what you can expect. To make news today, as the war in Iraq rages on, this is what to look ahead for.
President Bush returns to the White House this afternoon at around 1:30 Eastern time. He, of course, is at Camp David, the Presidential Retreat in Maryland, a Marine facility, where he convened a Wartime National Security meeting over the weekend.
Also, this afternoon, the Central Command has scheduled a news briefing in Doha, Qatar, and you can watch that live here on CNN at 2:00 Eastern.
And, in completely other news, the Oscars will go on tonight in Los Angeles with far less glitz, we are told, plenty of guards. The tone of the show, they say, will be subdued, obviously, because of the war.
COSTELLO: No fashion show, either, from what we understand.
COOPER: We are also awaiting a press conference in Kuwait City. The Air Force Major General Daniel Leaf. We anticipate that happening some time in the next hour, so we're going to, of course, bring that to you live, as well.
COSTELLO: Yes. He's got a lot to update us on, too, so we'll bring that to you live as soon as it happens.
One step back a bit and look at the whole picture of the region right now. The coalition forces are moving up from Kuwait. The U.S. Marines, along with British troops, have taken the Faw Peninsula, and they will move north. The Seventh Cavalry leads the Third Army north, while the Pentagon says it has taken an airfield in western Iraq. Now, the focus of all of those coalition forces remains at Iraq's capital and, of course that would be Baghdad.
Going ahead, live now to Kuwait City and Bill Hemmer. A lot has been happening there this morning, as well. At Camp Pennsylvania, some violence there from one of America's own. Apparently, a soldier threw at least three grenades into a tent, killed one American soldier and injured about 12 others. Bill, what more can you tell us?
HEMMER: Carol, details, as we have it. As you say, one dead, 12 others wounded, two not seriously, but 10 others airlifted to a local Army hospital in northern Kuwait. More on that in a moment.
There is breaking news, though, in Qatar. Forward Command Post, Central Command Station there with Tommy Franks. Tom Mintier is there for CNN. Tom, what do you have?
MINTIER: Just about four or five minutes ago, there was an explosion just outside the base. I saw it go off with my own eyes. It was not at the front gate. It was several hundred yards away from the front gate. A big cloud of brown smoke went up into the air. No idea if this was a hostile explosion or if this was a construction site that may have suffered an accident. But, a huge explosion just off the compound where Tommy Franks is located here in Qatar. The plume of smoke went up maybe six, seven hundred feet into the air and maybe 100 feet across. This was a very, very large explosion outside the base. Everyone's scurrying around. I could see one U.S. Army soldier running across the hillside to his weapon position, which is located inside the base. So, apparently, nerves definitely on edge right now as this explosion has occurred here at Central Command Headquarters in Doha.
HEMMER: Tom, I imagine that place is pretty secure. At least, security's got to be pretty tight on the inside. Give us a sense. You've been there for days now. A sense of that security is what there?
MINTIER: The security is extremely tight. Each time that we enter the base, we are thoroughly searched. Bomb sniffing dogs check our equipment, they check our bags, they check our computers, they check everything. Again, this was not an explosion on the compound itself, but farther away, outside the parameter of the compound, the explosion occurred. So, there is no security in those areas out there. Again, whether it was an accident, a construction accident, or a deliberate act, we simply do not know. It's too early to tell, but it was, indeed, a large explosion that I could see about -- maybe four or five hundred yards away from the front entrance to the base.
HEMMER: Yes. Tom, your job there for CNN is to follow and track the movements of Tommy Franks and the briefings that we're getting from CENTCOM. The first one, really, came out yesterday, since this conflict began on Wednesday night. Do you stay on the base? And, if not, are you in town enough to give us an idea about -- you know, downtown Doha, the population there, any threats in the past that may have been directed toward U.S. or British forces.
MINTIER: Well, I do come and go from the base on occasion, not on a regular basis, but I have not seen anything which is out of the ordinary. They have stores and shops that are open, the hotels are filled with journalists, there doesn't seem to be any opposition to the coalition presence here. It seems like a very normal place. This explosion that occurred, now about seven or eight minutes ago, could have been an accident. We don't know. It could have been a construction site where they were using dynamite. Or, it could have been something with hostile intent. Indeed, the security around this area is tight and it was even tightened as the campaign began in Iraq. They moved police posts in, Air Force security from the Kuwaiti military, or Qatari military. They set up outposts, maybe a half mile away from the entrance. Security was definitely beefed up in the last 72 hours. So, just what this incident was, we're still not sure, but I saw it with my own eyes, go up maybe five, six hundred feet in the air with a large plume of smoke. It was a very loud explosion. You could feel the concussion all the way on the center of the base where I'm located.
HEMMER: Tom, I don't want to cut your (UNINTELLIGIBLE). One more question, then, for you. We have found, in the past, in some of these Persian Gulf states, despite the fact that they have a U.S. military presence in their country, they try and keep that information away from their own people, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. The Qataris, do they know about the U.S. presence in their country?
MINTIER: Oh, absolutely. Qatari television is here. They have been broadcasting live. I think they took Tommy Franks' briefing live yesterday. So, the local nationals are well aware of the military presence here. Qatari TV is a part of this operation behind me here, filing regular reports, you know, hourly, from the press center. So, the locals here in the country are fully aware of what is going on here. They may not be able to come and visit the base, but local television has been broadcasting from this site, just maybe 20, 30 feet from where I'm standing right now.
HEMMER: All right, Tom. Tom Mintier again, in Doha Qatar. We'll let you go and see if we can track down and find out for us, based on this explosion that Tom heard a short time ago and saw himself, just outside the base there at Central Command, the forward position for the U.S. military has been stationed and set up for this war with Iraq.
Meanwhile, let's move to a different part of the Persian Gulf area. Yesterday, Christiane Amanpour was in southeastern Iraq. She is traveling with the British military. Since that time, she's come back south into Kuwait. And, let's check in now for an update as to what's happening there today. Christiane, hello. Good afternoon.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bill, hello to you. We are, in fact, traveling with British in and out of various areas, and we are sort of seeing a big picture of what's going on in the southern Iraqi area. Yesterday, we were in Umm Qasr, and we've been reporting -- you have for a long time this morning about those last pockets of resistance. And, even though they had the main (UNINTELLIGIBLE) yesterday, there were still, as they told us when we were there, and as you've seen today, trying to wipe out those last pockets of resistance.
Umm Qasr is a little bit of a litmus test, of course, because that is going to tell how the rest of this area might go, particularly the urban areas. They're still worried about potentially going to Basra because they don't know how they're going to be welcomed and whether there are any Iraqi military in there. What we're being told by briefers here is that many of the Iraqi Army units that were outside Basra have "melted away," or surrendered. But, there may be a situation where they have moved into the town of Basra. That is not clear yet. Today, we were inside Iraq in the southern area at the Rumaila (ph) oil fields that, also, important strategically, as is most of this southern area, for economic and financial strategic reasons. The Rumaila (ph) oil fields ...
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