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Coalition News Briefing

Aired April 25, 2004 - 09:09   ET


RENAY SAN MIGUEL, CNN ANCHOR: Now we take you to Baghdad where the coalition daily briefing is under way. Let's listen in.
DAN SENOR, COALITION SPOKESMAN: ... facilities, the oil rig last night. In fact, I know many of you attended a press conference held about an hour ago by the Iraqi minister of oil on the situation.

Later today, Ambassador Bremer is meeting with the president of Bulgaria. And finally, earlier today, he held his weekly meeting with Iraqi journalists, roundtable with Iraqi reporters, and did some television interviews with the pan-Arabic media following that. He had a message for the Iraqi journalists that he was hoping will be conveyed to the Iraqi people. And I'll just reiterate it here.

A dangerous situation is developing in Najaf, where weapons are being stockpiled in mosques and in shrines and in schools. This explosive situation threatens the local population there that is already in a very dangerous situation. It puts all law-abiding citizens in Fallujah at risk.

All individuals that are seeking a peaceful resolution to the situation there must not tolerate the stockpiling of weapons in mosques and in shrines and in schools. All individuals that are seeking a restoration to the holy places of worship from the bases for offensive operations, from the bases of violence that many of these holy places have become, must not tolerate this. And the message is similar for the people of Fallujah, where during the recent violence, we saw the use of holy places to stockpile weapons and to organize attacks, where we saw items, where we saw vehicles, such as ambulances, that are to be used for peaceful means being used as an accessory to violence.

This cannot be tolerated. It will not be tolerated by people seeking a peaceful resolution. It will not be tolerated by people who want to minimize bloodshed.

General Kimmitt.

BRIG. GEN. MARK KIMMITT, U.S. ARMY: Good afternoon.

The coalition continues offensive and support operations focused on restoration of a stable economy in order to -- and the restoration of a stable environment in order to repair infrastructure, stimulate the economy, and transfer sovereignty to the people of Iraq. In the northern zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 65 patrols, five offensive operations, and detained 14 anti- coalition suspects.

Earlier this morning, coalition forces conducted cordon searches in southwest Mosul for two leaders of an anti-coalition cell. Four target locations were searched during the operation. The two primary targets were not present; however, one target was detained, along with 13 other personnel.

Today, between 9:30 and 9:45, the enemy launched four indirect fire attacks in Mosul, killing four civilians and wounding 13 civilians and two police officers. In the first incident, a local hospital was attacked with one round, killing two Iraqis and wounding 10.

Next, a hotel parking lot just north of Mosul Air Field received two rounds, killing two civilians and wounding three. The coalition forward operating base in central Mosul was also attacked with two rounds, but the rounds impacted 500 meters outside the perimeter, wounding two Iraqi police.

In the last incident, the Iraqi media network station in Mosul was attacked by two 120-millimeter rockets. The rounds fell short and created no casualties or damage.

Additionally, at approximately 3:00 this afternoon, an improvised explosive device was discovered at Mosul University. An Iraqi police EOD team safely removed the device without casualties or damage.

In the north central zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 319 patrols, three raids, and captured 27 anti-coalition suspects. Yesterday morning, a coalition force conducted a raid on a palm grove in Baquba. The palm grove has been mentioned numerous times at these briefings and was suspected as the launching point for multiple anti-coalition attacks over the past 15 days. The raid detained two Iraqi males, weapons and ammunition.

Yesterday morning, anti-coalition forces attacked a civilian shopping area with an IED in Tikrit. The attack resulted in the killing of two Iraqi policemen and two Iraqi civilians. Additionally, 16 other Iraqi civilians were injured in the attack. Iraqi ambulances and fire department vehicles responded immediately, and there were no coalition forces operating in the area at the time of the explosion.

In Baghdad, the 1st Cavalry Division conducted 226 patrols and captured 12 anti-coalition suspects in the past 24 hours. This morning in southern Baghdad, coalition forces conducted a raid to detain a suspected Mujahadin member. Coalition forces detained five individuals, including the primary target.

Yesterday, coalition forces conducted a raid in central Baghdad to kill or capture four targets suspected of having been trained as bomb makers. Coalition forces detained all four suspects and confiscated weapons and bomb-making material.

Yesterday, while en route to a cordoned search mission, coalition forces were attacked by eight personnel with AK-47s and multiple rocket-propelled grenades inside Sadr City. Coalition forces returned fire, killing three enemy dismounts. There were no coalition injuries nor damage to equipment.

Yesterday, a coalition forward operating base was attacked with indirect fire near Sadr City. According to the Ministry of Health, six civilians were killed and 38 were wounded without any coalition casualties.

In the western zone of operations, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted 69 patrols and captured 59 anti-coalition suspects. Yesterday morning, coalition and Iraqi security forces conducted a joint cordoned (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to apprehend an ICDC soldier suspected of participating in anti-coalition activities. Coalition forces captured the target and a checkpoint and transported him to a detention facility for further questioning.

Two days ago, coalition forces observed 10 males with AK-47s walking southeast of Fallujah. Coalition forces also observed one Iraqi male remove what appeared to be a mortar tube from his vehicle and go into a house. Forces cordoned off the house and requested air support. And when the AC-130 was on station, ground forces engaged the house. Enemy forces inside the house went to pre-planned battle positions, and the house was engaged by the AC-130, killing an estimated 25 enemy personnel.

In the central south zone of operations, the division conducted 87 patrols, 43 checkpoints, and escorted 12 convoys. Yesterday, a coalition patrol was attacked by an IED near Iskandariya. Immediately after the explosion, the unit came under a small arms attack. The soldiers returned fire, killing one Iraqi and destroying his truck.

Yesterday, also in Iskandariya, a 50-passenger bus carrying local Iraqis was attacked by another IED, consisting of four artillery rounds, killing 13 Iraqis and wounding 11. In the southeastern zone of operations, coalition forces conducted 142 patrols, of which 15 conducted with joint -- as joint patrols, and captured two anti- coalition suspects in the last 24 hours.

Yesterday, three water-born IED attacks occurred near oil terminals located in the northern Iraqi gulf. No reported damage to the tankers or terminal, although the attack resulted in two U.S. killed and four U.S. wounded.

Before I step off the podium here, let me give you a better idea of some updates to what's been going on in Fallujah. Last night, after the press conference, the delegation returned from Fallujah. There have been some further agreements between the representatives in Fallujah and the coalition representatives.

As part of this dialogue, the Fallujah representatives agreed to extend the weapon turn-in until the 27th of April, and they committed to going back to the people inside Fallujah to spread the word. Mosques will also be used to broadcast this information. And they will also broadcast the information that anyone carrying a weapon in Fallujah, except legitimate security forces, defined as the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, the Iraqi police service, or the coalition forces, will be considered hostile. Conversely, the coalition representatives agreed to begin joint Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, Iraqi police service, and coalition patrols inside Fallujah beginning the 27th. And they also agreed -- we also agreed to allow 67 families, extended families, back into Fallujah today.

SENOR: And with that, we'll be happy to take your questions.


QUESTION: Excuse me. (UNINTELLIGIBLE), NBC News. This is for General Kimmitt.

General, how confident are you in the -- with those Fallujahans that you're negotiating with in relation to, do they have any sort of -- what sort of influence do they have over the insurgents, especially those foreign fighters that you're mentioning? And how can these leaders have any sort of influence over these foreign fighters in the city?

KIMMITT: Well, again, if it is as what has been reported numerous times in many media outlets, that what we have is the citizens of Fallujah participating in this operation, then we would expect that that these senior representatives of the citizens within Fallujah will be able to talk to them, reason with them, and bring them along in this process. The way we will have confidence, the way we will be able to trust that we're talking to the right people, is simply by their capability to deliver on the promises that they've made.

We put them in black today in terms of the ones that were just made last night, but as you can see, in the time period since we've talked last night, there hasn't been a lot of movement on the other agreements they made. As to the cease-fire, today we had nine -- eight small arms attacks, five induct fire attacks. Collected delivery weapons, no weapons were delivered today.

Re-established police and ICD in the city starting 18 April. Well, we'll start seeing on the 27th of April the movement of the joint patrols.

We can go down the list. I think the way we can trust and have confidence in those representatives, quite simply, is let's start seeing delivery. Let's start seeing delivery on the promises that have been made, and let's start seeing delivery on the expectations on both sides.

SAN MIGUEL: Brigadier Mark Kimmitt and CPA representative Dan Senor at the daily briefing in Baghdad. One of the big items coming out today, a concern that there is a dangerous situation developing in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf. Weapons are being stockpiled, according to the coalition, in mosques and shrines and schools there.

They're calling it a potentially explosive situation, threatening the local populous. They are appealing to those residents to not tolerate that particular situation. They say that situation has been the case in Fallujah as well.


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