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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

British Troops Look for Enemy Forces in Umm Qasr

Aired March 27, 2003 - 02:33   ET

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

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Daryn Kagan live in Kuwait City on what is now Thursday morning. Here are the hour's latest developments.
U.S. paratroopers, seen in exclusive pictures here, have jumped into northern Iraq. A thousand members of the 173rd Airborne Division landed safely and secured an airfield in the Om (ph) area under Kurdish control. The airfield will be used as a staging area for coalition troops and armor.

British Marines checked out a school in Umm Qasr and found more than books and pencils. Also, a large cache of weapons was found inside that school. A spokesman says the Marines found hand grenades, rocket-launched grenades and Iraqi military uniforms.

A mural was found in Iraqi military headquarters in Nasiriya on Wednesday. When U.S. Marines got there, they found a picture on the wall depicting a plane crashing into a skyscraper, similar to the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.

The first shipments of humanitarian aid began arriving in southern Iraq on Wednesday. That brought out people anxious for help. Shipments of food and water sent by the Kuwaiti government arrived in Safwan accompanied by a coalition of military forces.

President Bush met with coalition partner Tony Blair Wednesday at Camp David. The British prime minister is in the U.S. for talks on Operation Iraqi Freedom. Earlier in the day, the president said there's some progress in the war, but there still was a long way to go.

More news as it happens. We toss it back to our most comprehensive coverage of the war in Iraq and Aaron Brown.

And Aaron, I've been doing a lot of work since last I talked to you. We were talking about the bird?

BROWN: Yes? You got one?

KAGAN: Well, I got our birds, our compatriots here, yes.

BROWN: Now, you got to explain why you're...

KAGAN: There...

BROWN: All right.

KAGAN: OK.

BROWN: All right, why do we have these birds, Daryn?

KAGAN: You want -- well, actually, we have these birds -- we have a few of them here. Turn around, guys, and face the camera. There you go. They're in several rooms here at the building that we're occupying here in Kuwait City. They're here having a nice life, but they're also here to be early indicators if there is any kind of chemical or biological attack. We have these in the room here, and then there's other sets. And before the people concerned with animals -- because I think people out there know that I'm an animal lover, too. We'll say they are very well taken care of, have a nice life, and are considered our colleagues.

BROWN: May they...

KAGAN: They also have some interesting nicknames.

BROWN: Which are, quickly?

KAGAN: Well, these are Uday and Qusay.

BROWN: Oh, my.

KAGAN: In this room. Yes.

BROWN: Yes.

KAGAN: Have to have a little sense of humor while we're under these tense conditions.

BROWN: You guys are living under stress all your own. Thank you very much. May you and they stay well in the days ahead.

After the battle comes something almost as hard, which is searching and securing what's been won to make sure that it really has been won. British journalist Bill Neely has been with the Royal Marines in Umm Qasr. And no sooner do we say that then we have a little problem getting the tape up, so we'll try it again. Here's Bill Neely's report from Umm Qasr.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL NEELY, JOURNALIST: Saddam Hussein defended Umm Qasr with 120 men. Today the Royal Marines began the search for them, their weapons and the secret police who ruled this town. They targeted half a dozen houses, tipped off by locals who for years have been the victims of violence and repression. The Marines made arrests, and slowly the weapons were uncovered. These aging grenade-launchers were in an ambush trench. But it was Iraqi children who led us to the biggest find in the Fatt al Firas (ph) primary school. We find three classrooms packed with hundreds of hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenades and discarded uniforms. The Iraqi troops had disappeared into the civilian population.

Saddam is the national role model for these children, but their education comes second to the weapons he hides in their schools, hospitals, even mosques. Outside, rocket-propelled grenades like in the school playground.

(on camera): The searches continue but it's pretty clear Saddam's troops and secret police fled north to Basra a few days ago. But the people here still don't feel safe. The state of terror that is Iraq under Saddam won't disappear as quickly as his troops.

(voice-over): As the house-to-house searches intensified, an informer told Marines where to find four Iraqi soldiers. He described them as a colonel, two captains and a major. The Marines took them away for questioning. But what these locals want most now is water, food and medicine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Nothing else.

NEELY (on camera): Do you need Saddam Hussein?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a question I can't (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

NEELY (voice-over): But there are still pockets of support for Saddam Hussein in Umm Qasr.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This war, American and British people lose the war.

NEELY (on camera): Will lose the war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

NEELY: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You lose the war.

NEELY (voice-over): The battle for Umm Qasr may be over, the battle for the hearts and minds of all the people of Iraq is only just beginning.

Bill Neely with the Royal Marines in Umm Qasr.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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