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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Iraq's Republican Guards Engaged Near Karbala

Aired April 2, 2003 - 04:07   ET

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

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: What do you say we get started on a rotation of embedded reporters checking in with us beginning with Karl Penhaul. He is a reporter with the Army V Corps, 11th Attack Helicopter Regiment. He is somewhere in central Iraq, and he joins us right now on the phone.
Karl, hello.

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Daryn.

Yes, the push toward Baghdad is most definitely on. Overnight, the 3rd Infantry Division and, earlier this morning, elements of the 11th Aviation Regiment have been fighting up and around the city of Karbala. U.S. commanders here now tell me that the 3rd Infantry Division, parts of that, have pushed through Karbala and are now somewhat north of Karbala. They're being supported on the -- in the air by the Apache attack helicopters as they move forward against possible Republican Guard units, although it's not yet been confirmed whether they are Republican Guard or regular army units. But certainly the 3rd ID, their tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles, I'm being told, are now maneuvering beyond Karbala and towards the southern outskirts of Baghdad.

Commanders here say that the resistance in and around that city was somewhat lighter than initially suspected. That said, they have seen action against the more modern P-72 tanks. U.S. forces have also destroyed artillery emplacements and they've destroyed armored personnel carriers.

In the last few moments, like I say, north of Karbala, on the southern approaches towards Baghdad, Apache helicopters and Bradley fighting vehicles have engaged what are being called Iraqi technical vehicles. These are civilian pickups mounted with machine guns. Those have been driving south on a highway to try and engage U.S. forces and have met with a sharp response from the U.S. forces.

Some commanders -- U.S. commanders here on the ground are very optimistic of developments at this stage and are saying things progressing a little quicker than they had initially expected -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Karl, we want to try to get as many of the embedded reporters in as possible, so I'm going to let you go. We'll check back with you later.

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