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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Picturing Iraq: Look at People of Kifri in Northern Iraq

Aired March 30, 2003 - 03:16   ET

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

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We want to talk about a different kind of reporting. You know, some photographers in Iraq are really trying to get up to the front line and get those battle images.
David Turnley likes to focus on a different aspect of the war, and he has made his way into northern Iraq. He likes to focus more on what is happening to the average people and how they are dealing with living around the war situation. He is in the northern Iraq town of Kifri, and he joins us now by videophone.

David -- good to hear from you.

DAVID TURNLEY, CNN PHOTOGRAPHER: Good morning. Good morning, Daryn.

We're standing here in Kifri on the eastern flank of the northern front. Kifri is about 180 kilometers from Baghdad. It's the closest point on the northern front to Baghdad.

The city has been bombed for the last 24 hours. The Iraqi front on the other side is being hit by coalition forces day and night.

The people here are excited on many levels. First of all, just north and east of here, the Antara Salam (ph) group was driven, as you know, out of their enclave into the Iranian mountains. The people here have felt that the Antara Salam (ph) group has been as much of a scourge on them as Saddam Hussein, so they've been configured in sort of a complicated political equation here geographically.

They are getting rumors that Iraqi soldiers on the front-line position just in front of them are in fact defecting, but that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that Saddam Hussein is also, and his forces, are calling them back to reinforce Baghdad.

Lots of rumors going on here, lots of anxiety, and yet lots of anticipation. These people are on the front line here. They've been on the front line for the last decade in numerous conflicts. They're a very poor people. They make their living mostly from smuggling kerosene and petro from the south, a very strong people. In fact, they say they are very proud to have been the people that, of any of the Iraqis, any of the Kurds, have endured the most and will defy whatever comes their way.

KAGAN: People who are familiar with David's work knows that he makes his living by going from one battlefield to another. He has been in just about every conflict in the last 10 years. So, David, I would just like to ask you in the time you have been covering this conflict what is the one image that so far sticks in your mind that tells the story of what you've been seeing?

TURNLEY: Daryn, I've been in the north in effectively what is called Kurdistan with the Kurdish people. Of all of the cultures I have photographed anywhere in the world I have never encountered a group of people who actually like to be photographed as much as these people do. They're very proud. They're dignified. You never get a sense that they put their heads down. They stand tall.

The eyes say a lot here. These people just have very beautiful eyes, very soulful eyes, very deep eyes. You see so much in them. And they connect with the camera in such a strong way.

They're a very hospitable people. And never in any instant, whether we're in a refugee camp, in a town that's just been bombed, do they stop from inviting you in for tea and to talk.

These people are in a state of mind right now where I think they feel a great deal of anticipation. There are some of these people who themselves would like a free state, effectively a free Kurdistan, and others who say they're willing to participate in a larger democratic Iraq.

A lot of anticipation of about what will come if the Saddam Hussein regime falls.

KAGAN: I imagine this is making for some incredible images that you're gathering there in the field. I look forward to seeing those when you get back. David Turnley in the northern Iraq town of Kifri, thank you.

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