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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Coalition Press Briefing on Release of European Hostages

Aired June 8, 2004 - 10:24   ET

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


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We need to go to live to Baghdad right now, a news briefing with Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez. Let's listen in.
LT. GEN. RICARDO SANCHEZ, COALITION COMMANDER: There were some individuals believed to be involved in the kidnapping that were detained.

And now I'll pass the microphone over to Ambassador de Martino.

GIANLUDOVICO DE MARTINO DI MONTEGIORDANO, HEAD, ITALIAN DELEGATION, BAGHDAD: Thank you, General Sanchez.

This is a great day for the released hostages, for the families, for Italy, for all of us. The operation that has led to release of the hostages is the result of strong cooperation which has been established since the beginning between the Italian authorities, CPA and the coalition forces.

And on behalf to the Italian government, I would like to thank the coalition forces and the CPA for their cooperation and their effort and their action.

Also, a thought, we should remember the fourth hostage, Quattrocchi, who was killed in captivity.

AMBASSADOR VILGUS (ph): I also would like, first of all, to thank to the coalition forces for the successful operation today. I think that's really the very, very good example of the cooperation in the fight of terrorism also here in Iraq.

And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) speaking, I am happy that our colleague will be soon in Poland with his families and friends.

Thank you very much.

SANCHEZ: We'll take a couple of questions.

QUESTION: We just wanted to know, first of all, where was the operation? Where they were freed? And was it a tough operation? I mean, there was any exchange of fire? Was it a special forces operation?

SANCHEZ: It was coalition forces that conducted the operation south of Baghdad.

QUESTION: General, the rescued hostages, where are they now? SANCHEZ: I'm sorry, sir, say again?

QUESTION: I apologize. The rescued hostages, are they still in country? Are they in good health? What's the status of them, please?

SANCHEZ: At this point in time, the hostages are under coalition forces control. And they are in good health.

QUESTION: I would like to know if the four hostages were held at the same place; if any of the kidnappers were arrested.

SANCHEZ: Yes, all of the hostages were at the same location. And yes, we did detain some individuals at the site.

QUESTION: Could you tell us anything about which group carried out this hostage-taking in the first place?

SANCHEZ: No, not at this point. We don't have that level of detail yet.

QUESTION: Do you have any plans for this kind of operation for more hostages?

SANCHEZ: That is undetermined at this point.

QUESTION: Where are the hostages right now?

SANCHEZ: As I stated, they are under coalition forces control, and they're in very good hands.

QUESTION: Could you give us a play-by-play?

SANCHEZ: We will provide that for you later. We wanted to make sure that we got this word out, and then later on we'll be able to give you a pretty good rundown of the conduct of the operation.

QUESTION: (SPEAKING IN ARABIC)

SANCHEZ: The rescued individuals are in good health.

QUESTION: (SPEAKING IN ARABIC)

SANCHEZ: No. At this point in time, there's no reported exchange of fire. And later on we'll be able to give you the precise location of the operation.

QUESTION: Can you tell us, was the release of the hostages the result of negotiations? And if so, by whom? And if not, was it an actual strike on where they were being held?

SANCHEZ: It was not the result of negotiations. It was an operation conducted by coalition forces.

QUESTION: Which unit took the hostages, liberated the hostages? And there was any injured or killed by the kidnappers?

SANCHEZ: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: Was anybody killed or injured of the kidnappers?

SANCHEZ: Of the kidnappers?

QUESTION: Yes.

SANCHEZ: I can't confirm that at this point in time. But it was a coalition forces combined operation.

QUESTION: Is it true Polish forces?

SANCHEZ: I'm sorry?

QUESTION: Polish.

SANCHEZ: I can't confirm that. It was coalition forces.

KAGAN: We've been listening to a briefing from Baghdad. Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez delivering the very good news that three Italian hostages and one Pole have been freed. They have been held hostage since April 12. Another hostage was with them when that kidnapping took place, and he, an Italian was shown to the world through video being executed. But these three Italians and the Pole freed to a colation exercise. They will be on their way back to Italy and Poland respectively.

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