CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
War in Iraq: Martin Savidge Reports With 7th Marines
Aired April 6, 2003 - 00:20 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: As I think I mentioned before, this is really the time of the evening, the early morning, when a lot of our embedded reporters are able to call in, we're able to get them up on the satellite. So we're trying to give you as much as possible a sense of what is going on in as many pockets of Iraq as we can.
Martin Savidge now joins us, he is with the Marines. And he has been on the move. It looks like he's stopped right now. He's with the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines.
Martin, what's your situation?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, one of the reasons you hear from us at this hour is this is obviously the start of our day. Our day usually begins right at sunrise, around 5:30 in the morning and that's when the convoys begin to pull together again and reunite.
You have fighting elements that go forward and then you have rear elements that are re-supplying. We're right now trying to get up with the main body of the 1st Battalion 7th Marines that have been involved in sporadic fighting for about the past 24-36 hours. Then you constantly have other Marines units that are driving forward and finishing up as well.
We're in what is the extreme southeastern suburbs of Baghdad. You can probably tell in the background, it is an urbanized, built-up area. It looks like an industrial area. One of the reasons for cautions is there are many places that people could hide, many potential places for ambush. So the Marines are very careful when they go through here.
A lot of civilians out on the street. It is the beginning of their day here as well. One of the things you notice, and we've noticed this for many days now, is that most of what you see are young men. And there has been a lot of speculation, saying, well whatever happened to the Republican Guard? The belief is, by many in the Marines here, is that the Republican Guard is all around us, walking down this road, perhaps some of the people here in the backdrop.
That they have changed into civilian clothing. That they have left their weaponry. That they left their bases and their armaments and are simply walking home or walking away from the fight. No indication that they're trying to escape to fight another day. There is simply the fact that you see pockets of men, young men of age where they would be serving in the military, moving on down the road, sometimes carrying their belongings with them. Are they truly the Republican Guard? No way of knowing right now. No one is stopping them. No one is searching them, because the drive is to move forward. And because they do not appear to be hostile in anyway shape or form, but you keep in mind, you have what maybe remnants of an army moving within a civilian population. It is a very difficult, a very dicey situation for the Marines. They will not open fire unless they are fired upon and have indication of where that fire is coming from.
But you are, essentially, in a very difficult circumstance right now, when in a built up area with civilian population moving all about you -- Anderson.
COOPER: Martin, I remember a couple of days ago we talked, and you were with a unit of Marines who were essentially going on patrol and going house to house in the area you were in there. A different area, a different mission, obviously, a different day. But is anything being done to search the surrounding areas? Or is that something that will just be left for another, for another unit?
SAVIDGE: Usually what happens is there is an initial search. The forward units that go through will simply report that they are receiving opposition. If they find that opposition is severe enough they will engage it but continue to drive forward. Then alert the follow on units that this is where we met problems. This is where you need to go in and more thoroughly investigate, cool it down, is there reference that they like to use. And that has been what is going on for those follow-up units.
In a situation like this, Marine units have already been through this area. They already has been fighting. It is believe for the most part, it has been dealt with and contained. That is not to say that there could not be somebody hiding with an AK-47 or and RPG. But are there main elements in here? It is not believe to be the case. However, Marines (ph) never take anything for granted.
We're being given the indication that we are going to move again. So, we're going to leave you just for the moment.
COOPER: All right, Martin Savidge, on the move. We'll try to check in with Martin in a minute or so, when he reestablishes contact.
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