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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Fedayeen Mingling Among Civilians

Aired March 27, 2003 - 04:29   ET

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

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Alessio Vinci who's been with the Marine Expeditionary Unit near Nasiriya I believe, or somewhere in that area, joins us. Alessio, what can you tell us?
ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello to you, Anderson. Yes, the Marine unit here that I'm embedded with is basically covering the war on two fronts. On the one side they're of course trying to keep the supply route here that drives through Nasiriya open and secured, which means that they have to beef up the military presence here in the entire region to make sure that that supply remains open.

And the U.S. commanders here are telling us that there are some pockets of resistance and some - especially some Saddam Fedayeen, who are trying to disrupt the operations here. So we are indeed hearing some sporadic fighting, but not any kind of heavy fighting that was - that we are experiencing here during the first few days that we're here.

On the other side, however, the Marines are also dealing with another huge problem. And that is the civilians, encountering hundreds of civilians every day, trying to come back into town towards Nasiriyah, to be able to get their civilians leaving from the entire area here, from villages - surrounding villages. They're trying to go back into Nasiriyah. And the U.S. Marines are trying to prevent them from doing so because they are saying that Nasiriyah right now is a dangerous place. And so there is a very interesting exchange between the U.S. Marines and those civilians who are trying to go back home.

Now the other problem is that the Fedayeen, the Saddam Fedayeen, are mingling among those civilians. And so, when the Marines are coming across large number of civilians, among them, they also find a large number of military, a large number of Fedayeen.

According to one commander here, in the last couple of days, 200 members of the military, including Republican Guards, often - including Fedayeen and including regular Army soldiers. And among them, of course 60 civilians. And the job of the U.S. military right now is to try to deal with those civilians, feed them, try to take care of them for a while, but they're trying to persuade them not to come here and to push them back towards their home.

Now of course, the problem of course is that when those civilians approach military checkpoints, and the Fedayeen structure shoot at them, then the U.S. military has to respond with fire. And sometimes, that causes some victims among the civilian population.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. Marines in Iraq burying the body of a six-year-old boy, his head facing mecca, according to Muslim tradition, a casualty of a new kind of war, killed along with his father, as their vehicle approached a Marine checkpoint at high speed. The man, Marines say, was an armed combatant. Marines say they want to avoid killing civilians, but they pose a threat, commanders say because Iraq paramilitary groups recruit them to run missions in U.S. controlled territory, often accompanied by young children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of them been -- have told us that they've been told you need to fight. If you don't fight, we'll do something to your family.

VINCI: The danger, U.S. military officials say is that paramilitary groups are conducting guerrilla style warfare against U.S. positions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, we expect that. And we're ready for that. And they may want to trade - and they're very well trained in guerrilla warfare, But we're very well-trained in anti-guerrilla warfare as well. And we'll - you know, if they want to come at us with that, we'll be waiting for them.

VINCI: When possible, suspects are cuffed and taken in for questioning. Or sometimes civilians are simply sent back from where they come from.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No entry. Roads closed on this one.

VINCI: And to minimize as much as possible contact between civilians and U.S. Marines, the military is putting up signs in Arabic, warning the local population to stay away and remain in their homes.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VINCI: And U.S. commanders say that they do not know how many civilians may have been killed so far, but what they say is that they were surprised to see how, for example, in Nasiriyah during the early days of the battle when the war was raging on down there, how - they were surprised to see how many civilians: children -- women and children were in the streets of Nasiriyah saying - one commander was telling me that clearly, that among some of the Iraqi military here, there are people who are not very much concerned about the state of civilians.

Back to you, Anderson.

COOPER: Alessio, I'm just curious to know, and I don't think how much interaction you've been able to have with civilians, but what kind of feedback are you getting? What kind of reaction are the Marines there getting from the local population? I mean, you said civilians are coming back. Is that an indication that they are believing it's a more secure situation? Why are they coming back? And what kind of attitude should they have the coalition forces? VINCI: Well, what happens is that I - and Nasiriyah's a large city, about 250,000 people. And there are many villages, rural villages all around it. And what happened is that these civilians are trying to reach from their villages to go back into town, to see relatives, to see the doctors, you know, to go about their business.

You must understand that this is a country that has been at war for 10 years. And so for many civilians, from many of the people especially live in remote areas, the presence of the military here in this region is nothing new. They may not even realize that this is an American military. They realize it once they get here.

But they may hear gunshots. They might fear - hear mortars. They may might hear war going on. But for them, this is nothing new. And therefore, they approach those military checkpoints because they want to find out more. And they want to find out if they can go back to their homes, if they come from the city. Or if they can go and see their relatives.

I witnessed an exchange between one of the U.S Marines and one of the civilians through an interpreter, he was saying look, I have a problem with my kidney. I need to go and see the doctor. I can't sleep. Please let me know. And the U.S. Marine was telling him, look Nasiriyah right now is not thick. You cannot go back in there.

So there is really as little - the U.S. Marines are trying to have as little contact as possible with the civilian population right now because they think we cannot deal with it. This is a forward unit. They cannot deal with, you know, feeding them, taking care of them, those who are wounded. They warned as much as possible, contained them, and convinced them that right now, it is impossible to go back into Nasiriyah. And the best thing for them is to go back to their homes and their villages from where they come from.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPNDENT: And I guess, as you mentioned, all this really returning - it's a security problem, because as you mentioned, there's Saddam Fedayeen fighters dressed in civilian clothes or infiltrating along with the civilian population. And it presents a challenge I guess for Marines to try to figure out who is who, Who is a civilian, who is an enemy fire.

Alessio Vinci with the Marine expeditionary unit, appreciate it. Thanks very muich - Carol?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're going to take a quick break right now, but as we go this break, we want to show you some more amazing pictures out of Kurdish controlled northern Iraq, as 1,000 U.S. paratroopers from the U.S. Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade stepped on a C-17s, rather, and parachuted into Kurdish controlled areas.

We'll be back with more on this right after this.

COOPER: We're actually going to take these live pictures from Abu Dhabi TV. Just... COSTELLO: Just coming in. All right, this is actually on Lebanese TV, LDC. Not exactly sure from where it is. I - this is trucks exploding somewhere in southern Iraq. This is all - as far as we know right now, literally again, this - just getting these pictures in. These usually are being seen live right now on Lebanese TV. Not sure if they're actually live pictures or if they are pictures.

They are live pictures. So this is happening right now somewhere in southern Iraq. We'll be right back

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Let's take a look what is happening at this hour across Iraq. Here are the latest war developments.

An airfield in northern Iraq, you're seeing the pictures right here, now in the hands of the U.S. Army. Members of the Army's 103rd Airborne Brigade parachuted into the Kurdish controlled area under the cover of darkness. The military will now begin flying troops and equipment to the field. Exclusive CNN pictures right there. Brent Sadler brought those back for us.

On the southern side of the country, British forces say Iraqi fighters have taken up positions in civilian areas of Basra. Resistance, stiffer than expected. The British are warning the battle for Basra could take weeks, maybe even months. Meanwhile, British aircraft bombed a column of about 70 Iraqi armored vehicles seen leaving Basra and heading south toward Umm Qasr.

Arab TV networks have shown video of a bombed marketplace in Baghdad. Iraqi officials say 15 people were killed in the strike. The Pentagon says it did not target the market. U.S. officials suggested a stray Iraqi anti aircraft shell or missile could have hit the market. According to British officials, an investigation is underway.

At the Pentagon, joint chiefs vice chair, General Peter Pace says Iraq has executed some prisoners of war. General Pace did not elaborate. Now earlier, Pentagon sources told CNN they were looking into a report that Iraqi soldiers shot and killed seven U.S. soldiers as they were surrendering with their hands up.

And it's been three days since Newsday heard from a reporter and a photographer covering the war in Baghdad. You are seeing their pictures there. Newsday has been investigating reports the two were expelled from Iraq and were escorted to the border of Syria or Jordan. A freelance photographer is also reporting missing.

Seven U.S. servicemen wounded from the war in Iraq arrived at a hospital on the southern coast of Spain today. They are among the first patients to be treated at the so-called Rapid Assembly Hospital, which opened last month under a bilateral agreement.

So more happening. President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair will plan war strategy again today at Camp David. They're also expected to map out plans for humanitarian relief and a post-war Iraq. Mr. Blair favors a more prominent role for the U.N. than President Bush is said to.

And back in Washington, lawmakers paused to remember one of their own. Veteran Democratic senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a legend, died yesterday following complications from an appendectomy. He has served in the Senate for 24 years, from 1977 to 2001. Daniel Patrick Moynihan dead at the age of 76. He will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday.

And here's what's coming up in our coverage in the next hour. We'll give you the latest on the U.S. paratroopers, who are now on the ground in northern Iraq, plus we're going to update you on the explosions at a Baghdad marketplace yesterday. Find out what both Iraq and the U.S. are now saying about the blast.

And we're going to take you across the border into Kuwait to see how Kuwaitis are reacting to war with our own Daryn Kagan. CNN's war coverage continues right now.

COSTELLO: And good morning to you. 4:41 Eastern time. 12:41 Baghdad time. You're seeing a live picture from Baghdad. And you see the weather has cleared, which means that coalition forces will probably be at work again today. I'm Carol Costello.

COOPER: And I'm Anderson Cooper. Thanks for watching our continuing coverage. We've been going at it all morning long. We got a couple hours left to go. And there's a lot to cover what is going on right now in the war on Iraq.

COSTELLO: Yes, we want to give you a visual sense of where coalition forces are in Iraq right now. Most coalition forces on the ground are now in central and southern Iraq, but the U.S. military is also building up its northern front. 1,000 paratroopers are now on the ground in the north, securing a key airfield in the Kurdish controlled dome.

And top U.S. military officials say early reports that a large group of Republican Guard troops were heading south from Baghdad, and they appear to be based on inaccurate intelligence.

COOPER: Well, we've been hearing a lot from our Daryn Kagan, who is in Kuwait City. There was a - apparently a scud or sorry, excuse me, I should say some sort of missile attack on Kuwait, shot down at least by Patriot missiles.

Daryn Kagan has the latest on that, as well as the mood in Kuwait, where the abnormal, I suppose, has become normal - Daryn?

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. I just want to make clear, it probably was not a scud. Of all the missiles that have been launched at Kuwait over the last week and a half or so, none, according to the U.S. military, have been scud missiles. And none had contained any biological or chemical weapons.

Want to move on, actually since we kind of - we covered the missile situation, as I said, a couple of Patriots fired up and they intercepted that missile. Let's move on then to a remarkable military maneuver. And you just mentioned this in the last couple of moments, taking place in northern Iraq. It happened overnight. We're going to roll some video for you, so you can get a sense of what it looked like in northern Iraq overnight.

This is 1,000 Army paratroopers dropping, parachuting their way into the Kurdish controlled area of Iraq. The soldiers are from the U.S. Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade. They parachuted to the ground, and then they walked across flat open field. They're there to assemble in the morning light. They began to secure the Harir Airfield. It is not far from Basar.

That's also where we find our Brent Sadler. He had the opportunity, I believe, to see the paratroopers as they fell from the night sky and tell us more about what their mission is, now that they're on the ground and how they're going to make that happen.

Brent, hello?

BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Daryn. Yes, indeed, we've been out for most of the night, trying to work out where these 1,000 paratroopers had dropped. And indeed, we came across them shortly after day break at Harir Airfield. Quite an incredible scene to see the paratroopers come across the drop zone several square miles in width, and really beginning to assemble and to secure that perimeter. So I just simply came from my observation post, walked across the fields to them, and introduced myself.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SADLER: Hi, good morning. Platoon sergeant, Brent Sadler from CNN. Good morning.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Geringer (ph).

SADLER: Welcome to Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

SADLER: How was it, tell me please? The parachute drop over night?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The parachute drop was well. It - everything went according to plan. Planes came in, dropped us off, just like how we normally do business.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SADLER: Yes, indeed, like they normally do business. We know from the comments they gave me there that the paratroopers had dropped from a height of about 1200 feet. Now that means they're floating down in that pitch black for less than a minute. About 45, 50 seconds, they were telling me, with their heavy weights strapped beneath them and then hit in the ground with a thud after hearing their canopies snap open immediately after exiting those aircraft.

Now 1,000 of them were dropped into the Kurdish territory in 10 sticks, as it's called in military jargon. That's 100 per stick, 10 aircraft, 1000 paratroopers very quickly deployed in this area. Speed is the essence. And getting all the paratroopers out of the aircraft, onto the ground in one piece is the aim of the mission. That was accomplished.

We've had two days of heavy rain here. So they had a soft landing. A couple of troopers told me they were surprised there wasn't sand, surprised to see snow on the mountains either side of the Harir Airfield. And thankful that they were down in one piece, with just a few bumps and scrapes in some cases. And really, their main problem was getting rid of the mud, which had caked on their faces, on their legs, and on their weapons.

There's not really been much interaction yet with the airborne brigade and the local Kurdish fighters here. But expect to have a liaison and coordination building in the days ahead. Now shortly after we found those paratroopers and took those exclusive pictures, we then heard from my colleague, CNN's Ben Wedeman that in these mountains behind me over there, those rolling hills over there, rather, where the Iraqi front lines are, there have been yet another day of air strikes, four huge explosions, puffs of smoke on that ridge line, another day of softening up targets on those Iraqi front line positions.

So we now have the first deployment of significant numbers of visible ground forces here in Kurdish territory. Expect those numbers to build to several thousand in the days ahead. Also expect, I'm told from Kurdish sources, to see heavy transport aircraft come into that airfield, which is now being secured by the airborne brigade, the 173rd. And expect to see heavier equipment on the personnel carriers, and more weaponry coming in.

So really, a lot more activity now on this northern front. Back to you, Daryn.

KAGAN: A couple quick questions for here, Brent. First of all, they're there, the paratroopers are there to secure that Harir Airfield, but what is the shape of that airfield? And is it in any shape to receive the kind of planes that need to bring in the heavy equipment, now?

SADLER: Yes, surprisingly, it is absolutely in very good shape. The air strip was built in the early 1980s by Saddam Hussein, but it's actually never been used. I've been on the runway myself expecting this deployment any day. And so, I've driven along the runways. It's in good shape. It's almost a couple of miles long. It's big enough to take heavy military transporters. It's got a parking apron, where now the paratroopers and special forces, two helicopters are also on the ground there, as I saw the paratroopers come in.

And so, there is enough space to move men and equipment there fairly rapidly. A slew of minimum equipment can be expected to come through there. And it's no surprise that this is happening. The Kurds were telling me several days ago to expect this plan B to come into operation, that the plan A, a deployment of plus 60,000 troops come into here from Turkey have been put aside because of complications with Ankora. Now plan B going into effect at the same time as we're saying daily now, attacks by coalition war planes.

Again, Saddam Hussein's northern defense line. Three Army calls up there. 120,000 Iraqi armored troops hold that line, a 500 mile line. This is just the beginning of plan B now taking shape - Daryn?

KAGAN: Incredible pictures from northern Iraq, bringing new meaning, I guess Brent, to thanks for dropping in. Much wanted, much awaited, much anticipated these paratroopers and this coalition presence in northern Iraq on behalf of the Kurdish people.

Brent Sadler in northern Iraq, thank you so much. As I toss it back to Anderson and Carol, I'm going to mention we're getting word about that Centcom briefing that now has been delayed. We're getting word that will take place at 7:00 a.m. Eastern. Of course, whenever it does begin, you'll see it live right here on CNN.

For now, I'm going to toss it back to Atlanta.

COOPER: All right ,thanks a lot, Daryn. There was really an interesting Centcom briefing that we covered a couple hours ago from British air marshal, who basically blasted al-Jazeera, the Arabic language network, for airing video purported to show two British soldiers lying dead. It was quite a briefing. A lot of...

COSTELLO: It certainly was.

COOPER: ...stuff came out of it.

COSTELLO: We're going to be talking a lot more about that. Right now, we're going to toss it back to Martin Savidge embedded with the Marines.

Martin, what do things look like from your perspective?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, we wanted to show you this - really a sort of a roadside rest on the way north for the U.S. military and specifically the Marines. Technically, it is known as a tactical assembly area. Let's take a look out here. This is the perimeter. Marines are experts at digging. Digging in is something that they do first and foremost when they reach a position.

The assembly area here is really a parking lot, a temporary one that is set up for military vehicles, set up for the men. It is a place where they refuel, refit, repair, and get some much needed rest, and also have food as well. So in some respects, it is a down area, a rest area, but also obviously being in Iraq in the middle of a war, it's going to be a very secure area. That's why you've got the perimeter being dug in over there.

This shows you more of what the setup looks like. There's literally dozens and dozens and dozens, probably more than that, of military vehicles. Everything from armored personnel carriers. There's also aviation assets that are here, helicopters flying out of here, medical unit. This is all that is something that can be set up very quickly and can be taken apart very quickly. Now this is not necessarily permanent. It is just a base of operations for the short term. And then you pick up and you move everything on. Speaking of fox holes, this is our fox hole. We had to dig that last night. We are not such exceptional diggers that it is that deep. Normally, ours are much more shallow than that, but we had the help of a back hoe, thanks to the Marines. So it's another indication that supplies are moving in. And you can see by the young Marines over here, it is a well needed rest for many of them. They have been going hard at it almost 24 hours a day.

So this is a chance for a few hours to try to catch up. They know they're going to be moving on again. They may not know what the objective is going to be, but they know they will be moving soon.

And one other thing about the landscape we're in. You may see it in the background here and think it's very arid. Almost looks like the Monteville salt plats. That is not the case the way it was until let's say just the very end of the last Gulf War. This was marsh land. This was wetland. This was very much - very green and full of water. Evidence of that I hold in my hand is that you can see these are shells here, freshwater snail shells.

So what am I getting at? Well now the whole story from military commanders to us is that after the war and retribution here, Saddam Hussein basically had all the water channeled out, drained the wetlands in a strike back against what are called the Marsh Arabs, who had been sympathetic against the Saddam Hussein regime. And as a result of that, what used to be very lush, very wet is now just plain desert once more. And military authorities say it is just one more long list of atrocities that Saddam Hussein has carried out. And we have no way exactly to verify that, but we do hold the shells in our hand - Carol?

COSTELLO: Martin, I wanted to ask you more about that fox hole that you dug, because you actually slept in that overnight. Didn't you?

SAVIDGE: Well, it depends. Some nights we sleep in them. Some nights we sleep right next to them. They're not the most comfortable thing. There's four of us that have to fit inside there. And if we slept in that one, we'd be curled up pretty tight.

There have been other nights, though, where yes, we do sleep inside of them. You lay your sleeping bag down. The very first night, when we got out to the departure are, that is the staging area where the troops were being masked, in northern Kuwait, we arrived after sunset and saw the ring sticking in. We got out our shovel light, drove it into the soil. And it bounced right back at me. I mean, that soil was as hard as a New York City sidewalk. And for the next two hours, we scraped, dug and cursed our way about eight inches into the soil, which was barely enough to lay down, but at least if there was a scud missile or some sort of artillery barrage, we'd have some form of shelter.

Some of the Marines that night dug for eight hours straight, got an hour of sleep. And I think that they moved on only to digging out. COSTELLO: I know. And - then all they have to eat are those MREs. I just don't know how you guys keep going out there?

SAVIDGE: Well, the meals are actually pretty good. The MREs are, of course, the military food. This is pre-packaged food. And the menus are improving. In fact, they've improved them from the last time I had them, which was in Afghanistan. Well, thanks very much. Yes, this is what we're talking about here as we hold up item number A. Now this one is chicken with noodles. It's not a favorite of mine, not a favorite of the group.

But they've also improved them with such things as vanilla cappuccino that you get.

COSTELLO: Oh.

SAVIDGE: Or strawberry and chocolate milkshakes and vanilla milkshakes. So they have - oh, and I'm sorry. I have my cameraman, Scotty, he's reminding me of the number one big hit that is new on the menu, a hamburger, which is essentially two slices of sort of wheat bread and a hamburger patty that goes in the middle. And you get barbecue sauce and then smother it with cheese spread.

COSTELLO: Oh.

SAVIDGE: And by golly, when you've been out here for a while, it's pretty good, pretty good indeed.

COSTELLO: Well I suppose if you're hungry, anything tastes good.

SAVIDGE: Item number eight is very hard to find.

COSTELLO: Yes. You know, Marty, things seem so calm there.

SAVIDGE: It does, it does.

COSTELLO: Calm there now, but it wasn't so calm over night, was it?

SAVIDGE: No. Well, last night was relatively quiet. The night before, as we explained, and others have reported about this, the attacks that had been taking place along the supply line, the supply lines goes all the way back to northern Kuwait. That's some distance now. And it's the main artery that brings in all the ammunition, brings in food, brings in the fuel and brings in the follow-up troops. That makes the fighting force.

And of course, because it is spread along such a long, long distance, it's vulnerable at times. And the Fedayeen, which are these militias that have been striking against that supply line, have been more of harassment, not a major problem according to the military, but they have been striking at the convoy.

So now, the focus has been on trying to secure those lines. The military knows they're vital. And we went out on one such operation to protect the shipment of a quarter of a millions gallons of fuel. And we were warned as we went down the roof, that we could expect some fire. And that's exactly what we got. A lot of small arms fire, sometimes very heavy, focused on the armored personnel carriers, rocket propelled grenades.

One of them just narrowly missed the vehicle that the CNN crew rides in. And there was a lot of shooting that was going on. And a lot of confusion because it was pitch dark that night. Night vision goggles don't work when there is no illumination. So there were armored personnel carriers running into each other. And we got struck at least three times.

Once we ran into a house. Another time, we ran into a humvee. And then another time, armored vehicle backed into us. And you are literally thrown around there like a tennis shoe in the dryer. You just get bounced around, which is how I ended up with a mark on my nose, but it's - it was a wild night.

However, as a result of the heavy fire power that U.S. forces poured on, they say they saw nothing last night. And that's part of their strategy. Hit hard when you are attacked and send the message, don't do it again.

COSTELLO: Well, we're glad you're all...

SAVIDGE: And apparently for the last 24, that has worked.

COSTELLO: Yes. We're glad you're safe and sound. Martin Savidge, thanks for joining us. We've got to run now because we've got Becky Diamond on the line.

COOPER: Martin Savidge just awesome.

COSTELLO: It's incredible.

COOPER: Yeah.

COSTELLO: Oh, we don't have Becky Diamond now. We're going to go to a break, but when we come back, we will.

COOPER: All right.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Well, earlier this morning from Centcom, we learned that the delivery of humanitarian aid to the port of Umm Qasr may be delayed as much as 24 hours. May not happen until Friday just because two mines were discovered and detonated in the water here at Umm Qasr.

For the latest, we go to Becky Diamond, who is with the Australians patrolling those waters.

Becky, what do things look like this morning?

BECKY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, possible mines have been detected in the waterway, leading to Umm Qasr. And pardon the chopper in the background. I apologize for the noise. So mines have been detected. And they're sending out mine sweepers now to take a look at what those objects might be. And that's in the waterway itself, not in the port of Umm Qasr. Nothing in the KA waterway leading from the Persian Gulf up to the port, the port town of Umm Qasr.

Now the Sir Gallahad was expected to have arrived yesterday. It was supposed to pass through this waterway, and then we were told, it was supposed to arrive today. Now it's being pushed back again because of this threat - Anderson?

COOPER: All right, Becky, thanks very much. Just to remind our viewers, the Sir Gallahad has about some 200 or so tons of humanitarian aid, food, water, medicines. It's stuff donated both by the British government and by the Kuwaiti government. It was, as Becky reported, supposed to get there any time today. Actually, is what the figure we had been told. We've been told some time on Thursday. It looks now like that's going to be delayed at least 24 hours, according to the British. Becky Diamond reporting live from the waterway with the Australians. Thanks very much.

COSTELLO: Okay, and with that, we start our next hour.

It is 5:00 Eastern time. Time to check the headlines now. About 1,000 U.S. paratroopers with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, are preparing an airfield in northern Iraq to receive tanks, troops, and other fighting equipment. The 173rd parachuted into Kurdish controlled northern Iraq overnight and took control of an air strip capable of handling large military transports.

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