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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Uprising Against Iraqi Regime in Basra

Aired March 26, 2003 - 04:21   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: I want to go on to something much more serious, and this is the conflicting reports regarding Basra this morning. And the British military is saying that residents are staging an uprising against Saddam Hussein's regime. Iraq's foreign minister denies that.
We’re going to go ahead and get the latest from our Tom Mintier. He is at Central Command headquarters on Doha, Qatar.

Tom -- hello.

TOM MINTIER CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, I should tell you that we're undergoing the same sandstorm right now, so the television transmission may be interrupted while I speak, but here inside, the sand is not blowing. Outside, you can see hardly to the end of your arm.

Yes, there are conflicting reports about what's going on in Basra. A military spokesman here told me earlier that it is quiet now. But overnight, he said people were out in the streets uprising against the regime, saying that they were attacked by mortar fire, but from Baath Party headquarters.

British military returned the fire, raining down mortars on that headquarters, and then calling in an airstrike that eventually silenced the mortars that were being lodged against the civilian population.

Now, when you talk to the British about what's next for Basra, whether they're going to go in because they've already declared it a military objective and take it, they say they're not quite ready to do that; that when they are read to do it, it will be done, and then we will be told about it.

But they are quite concerned about the humanitarian situation inside Basra.

KAGAN: All right, Tom, and I would like to know about that humanitarian condition inside of Basra. Of course, we're talking about the second-largest city in all of Iraq, about 1.7 million people. It could be that this is like the third or fourth day that these people have not had clean water or electricity.

They're not willing to say, the British at this point, when they're going to take that next military step. But what about looking beyond that? When do they think they will be able to allow some of these organizations to get in and help with humanitarian aid? MINTIER: Well, the British military says they do have humanitarian supplies with their troops in the field, and they it will be provided upon entering the city. But as far as when that's going to take place they're not willing to say.

They do say that the water situation is at a critical stage, and there is no electricity in Basra. So they are concerned for the lack of pure drinking water and the fact that there is no electricity. But they do say they have drinking water with them, they have humanitarian meals with them. And once they enter the city, they will be provided to the people of Basra. Just when that's going to be nobody is saying right now.

In about two-and-a-half hours, we expect a briefing here at Central Command with possibly an update on the Basra situation.

Back to you.

KAGAN: All right, well, I'm sure when that begins at CentCom, you're going to see it live right here on CNN, both domestically and on CNN International.

Tom Mintier, thank you very much.

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