CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
War in Iraq: Pentagon Update
Aired April 2, 2003 - 04:23 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to get an update now of what is going on in the ground or on the ground in Iraq, as close as we can tell you, from CNN's Chris Plante at the Pentagon -- Chris.
CHRIS PLANTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Anderson.
A lot of ground activity south of Baghdad tonight, the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division is fighting the Medina division, which is probably the premiere division in the Iraqi military. It is a heavily armored division. It is south and west of the city of Baghdad. This division has been taking a beating from U.S. and British air power over the last several days, focusing on their heavy tanks first, their T-72s, followed by their T-55s. And now the ground offensive has begun against them from the Army's 3rd Infantry Division.
To the east of there, around the city of Kut, the Marine Corps 1st Division is taking them on head on, also after a number of days of pummeling from the air. But it appears that this is the opening phase of the assault on Baghdad, the battle for Baghdad. It's the -- their end result of what this has all been building to.
Again, phase one, they're going to try to take out these key divisions and open the door to the city's -- to the city gates of Baghdad. There, of course, they're going to run into the Republican -- the special Republican Guard, which is a smaller, but very serious, military unit operating inside the city -- Anderson.
COOPER: And there had, you know, been a lot of talk in earlier days about this red line, the potential use of chemical or biological weapons as coalition forces near. I assume that must be foremost in the minds of a lot of the troops right now.
PLANTE: It is certainly an area of major concern for everyone involved. U.S. intelligence early on in this conflict apparently intercepted some intelligence, some communications from the Iraqi leadership out to units in the field advising them that when the coalition forces reach a specific point outside of the city that they are to use chemical weapons against them.
It's not entirely clear where this red line is. We believe it's something of an imaginary red line. It may be different distances from the city in different directions, but there is certainly great concern that at this point chemical weapons may be used. Chemical weapons, of course, probably the primary reason for the U.S. and Britain deciding to go into Iraq in the first place to disarm Saddam Hussein. And the belief is that once he feels that he's really painted into a corner that he'll go ahead and use them -- Anderson. COOPER: That is the big fear right now, of course. Chris Plante, at the Pentagon, thanks. We'll check in with you later.
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