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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

War in Iraq: Kurdish Iraq

Aired April 4, 2003 - 04:26   ET

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

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We move back now to northern Iraq, that's where we find our Kevin Sites also on the front lines.
Kevin, hello.

KEVIN SITES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Daryn.

Our front line is a little bit different than the one Walt Rodgers is showing you. This is the Bower (ph) region of northern Iraq. This is about 35 kilometers southeast of Kirkuk. But it is the furthest front line west for these peshmerga fighters. If there's an embedding that we're doing, it's kind of with them. We've been working with them since the beginning of the war, kind of noting their determination to see this regime toppled.

I want to speak with Awat Yaseen Mohammed (ph). He is a 21-year- old peshmerga. Daryn, he has been with the peshmerga forces for six months. And we're just curious a little bit about his motivation. And we have to speak with him through our interpreter, Ala (ph).

Ala, would you ask him why he joined the peshmerga?

AWAT YASEEN MOHAMMED (through translator): Because the regime used Anfal operation and chemical weapons against our people here.

SITES: They're talking about the Anfal operations, Daryn, which is the alleged genocide that Saddam Hussein used against the Kurdish people where 180,000 of them were allegedly killed in 1988 by the regime who had used some excuse out of one of the verses of Koran that unbelievers had to be put to the blade. And that's what he did to many Kurdish people, according to them.

We spoke to many of the peshmergas who have lost family members. We talked to one gentleman yesterday, an older gentleman, who had lost five of his children and his wife in the Anfal operations, he says, and that's why he joined the peshmerga as well.

Now these guys have also witnessed the bombing that has been going on in Kirkuk. They have been here and said that the heaviest bombing has occurred over yesterday morning and the night prior to yesterday. And they can describe that to us a little bit.

What did you hear and what did you see from this position?

MOHAMMED (through translator): We have taken heavy bombing just the same as two days before. SITES: It seems that the bombing has been very determined these last few days. From our position in Chamchamal, we've seen a lot of B-52s flying overhead, as well as hearing fighter jets. And it has been heavier than it has been in the past.

There's been a lot of talk about a coalition ground force advancing from this area. We can only say that we have not seen many troops. There are reports, however, supplies are moving down from Turkey at this point into northern Iraq. It can only be assumed that they may be used for that coalition advance, if it does take shape, but at this point it seems to be in the very early stages -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Kevin Sites reporting to us from northern Iraq on the Kurdish people, a people who have seen more than their share of pain and suffering.

Kevin, thank you.

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