CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
War in Iraq: View From the Pentagon
Aired April 6, 2003 - 06:21 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: We've been talking a lot about this friendly fire incident that happened in northern Iraq. There was another one, too.
CNN's Kathleen Koch is live at the Pentagon to bring us up to date.
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, it's still a bit unclear as to the total numbers of U.S. service members who may have lost their lives in these two friendly fire incidents that have occurred in Iraq in recent hours. We can certainly confirm that these would be the fourth and fifth friendly fire accidents since the conflict in Iraq began, the most recent one being just three days ago when three U.S. service members lost their lives.
Now all total up to this point in the war there have been four British soldiers and then just 3 Americans who have lost their lives to friendly fire, that out of a total of 106 coalition deaths. And the percentages are actually quite low compared to the Persian Gulf War, the first Persian Gulf War. And at that point there were 35 Americans out of 148 who died because of friendly fire. That's nearly one in four. And the U.S. military has pointed out before this conflict even began that in recent years, in recent military conflicts that the percentage of friendly fire deaths is generally much higher because though the weapons are more precise, they are much more lethal.
Now of course Baghdad, the city of Baghdad itself, got a taste of some of that lethal firepower this morning as aerial bombardments of the city continued around the clock. It was striking downtown in Baghdad. And also around the clock going on what we're seeing is two U.S. warplanes in the air 24/7. And these -- they are providing what's being called close urban air support to the U.S. forces on the ground. So if they are threatened, those two aircraft can call in at least six others, A-10s, F-16s for support.
And ground forces will now increasingly, just as we've seen over the last two days, be moving into the city on these pinpoint missions. And not only are the columns of tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles on the lookout for troops and weapons positioned perhaps hidden within the city confines, but CENTCOM says that the daylight forays are also meant to send a message.
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MAJ. GEN. VICTOR RENUART JR., U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: In terms of day or night, I think that it was very clear to the people of Baghdad that coalition forces were in the city. That image is important. And so I think being in the daytime was a -- was a very clear -- it was a very clear statement to the Iraqi regime as well that we can move at times and places of our choosing, even in to their capital city.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOCH: And the general in charge of the coalition's air force in Iraqi is reporting that from the air now that U.S. flyers are only seeing very small groups of Iraqi Republican Guard, no longer any real functioning major divisions of the Republican Guard within the country. And Lieutenant General Michael Mosley also took some questions about why the U.S. has not been able to knock Iraqi television off the air. And he said basically they have been very concerned about inflicting too many civilian casualties so they've just allowed it to go ahead and pop back up again, not wanting to risk any civilians unduly.
Back to you.
COSTELLO: You know I was just going to ask you that that U.S. forces conduct these airstrikes over Baghdad, wouldn't it be more difficult to avoid civilian casualties?
KOCH: It is, it's very difficult. But again, Carol, we're dealing with very smart weapons, precision guided weapons, many more than were used in the first Persian Gulf War. But even with that, apparently the location and the means that they're using to broadcast are just too tough to hit without hitting civilians.
COSTELLO: Understand. Kathleen Koch reporting live from the Pentagon.
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