CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
War in Iraq: Baghdad Update
Aired April 4, 2003 - 04:29 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 check in right now with Rym Brahimi who is in Amman, Jordan, as she has been.
Rym, what's the latest information you have on this fighting in and around the Baghdad airport?
RYM BRAHIMI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, definitely this is a very key, strategic stronghold if -- stronghold for the U.S.-led forces if they can secure the airport. It's a huge airport with a very big runway. From there they could -- they could really stage a lot of operations, including humanitarian relief operations, and place a lot of equipment there. And it's only about a half-hour drive west from the center of the Iraqi capital.
Now I've just been able to get through to Baghdad, and sources I spoke to there said that very -- many people there were extremely surprised to hear that the U.S.-led forces were so close to Baghdad and so close to the airport. Indeed there is still fighting going on, but people in Baghdad apparently say they won't believe that until they actually see that it's true.
Now they haven't been able to follow much of -- much television. At any rate, they don't have satellite dishes, but the electricity is cut off. They've been listening to radio. And of course the same messages on Iraqi-state radio have been going through, resistance messages, to all.
Also, Naji Sabri, Iraqi's Foreign Minister, told the BBC that President Saddam Hussein was still alive. But generally speaking, people won't be going out to greet any soldiers. That said, they are running errands there. Despite the uncertainty, people are going out. Mainly they're going to buy generators and water tanks because the electricity there has been cut off since 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, as you well know -- Anderson.
COOPER: Rym, it's fascinating to me that the people you talked to didn't believe that the troops were at the airport or in the vicinity of the airport. Did they hear it from you that that was the case or had they heard -- had they heard previously? Because I know the Information Minister the day before was saying it's not happening, they're nowhere near the airport.
BRAHIMI: Exactly, the Information Minister was saying that this is a total illusion, they're nowhere near the airport, they're not even close to getting there. Well people may have heard it. And my understanding is the people that heard about it heard about it on international radio stations. And when they were told -- asked about it by the people, the exchanges they had were a lot of the Iraqi residents of Baghdad said they wouldn't believe it until they actually saw that this had happened with their own eyes. They weren't prepared to believe that.
And of course you probably have to take into consideration the fact that they have been asked to stay away from these things, to just stay at home. From the minute the campaign was launched, they were told by the members of the Baath Party not to get involved into anything. So they're pretty much doing that, except, again, for running errands. A lot of the shops are closed, but there are still marketplaces where they are selling the utilities that people will need now for water and electricity -- Anderson.
COOPER: It's fascinating. And there was some pretty heavy bombardment over the evening, over the night, wasn't there?
BRAHIMI: Absolutely, Anderson. Waves of heavy bombing. I understand it was very, very heavy. Apparently one of the explosions there totally lit up the skies of Baghdad overnight, and it -- you could tell the difference, obviously, because Baghdad has been in total darkness for the past 24 hours. It's not clear whether the electricity was cut off by Iraqi authorities or whether it was hit by --whether the electricity grid was hit by a missile, but definitely very powerful explosion. That said, again, people still trying to go about their business and waiting to hear what's next. A lot of uncertainty right now in the Iraqi capital.
COOPER: And I know we are awaiting...
COOPER: ... some sort of statement from Iraqi television that we have been told will be coming on soon, so we'll let you go because I know you'll want to watch it or hear it on the radio at least. We'll check in with you afterward.
Rym Brahimi reporting live from Amman, Jordan.
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