Iraq War News Roundup
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KWAME HOLMAN: In northern Iraq, the city of Mosul was captured when thousands of Iraqi soldiers simply gave up the fight and walked away. Almost immediately, chaos broke out. Julian Manyon of Independent Television News witnessed the events there.
JULIAN MANYON: In Mosul, they started by looting the central bank, and then set about the rest. Every official building and many private ones had their contents stolen by excited crowds. The Kurdish driver of this crane had just used it to steal a bus. When he saw me– one of his liberators, he believed– his joy was unconfined. But his trophy turned out to be more than he could handle. Meanwhile, the bombed out central police headquarters, center of power of the old regime, began to burn. Saddam’s palace in Mosul was one of his most magnificent. Today, it attracted looters in hordes. The lucky ones got the ornate furniture and fittings. Latecomers set about removing doors and window frames. Most of the looters at the palace were Kurds openly celebrating their freedom, but the mood in Arab districts of the city was darker. Here an army base is on fire, the troops have fled, and local people have surged in to loot it. But among many of the Arab population of Mosul, there are profoundly mixed, even hostile feelings, towards what is happening. Above all, they’re concerned about the complete breakdown of law and order. At the Saddam Hospital, we found people deeply angry.
MAN: You’re responsible for this — the security, lost in this country. Why?
JULIAN MANYON: In the wards, victims of the coalition bombing. Staff here are having to treat terrible injuries. But today, they were trying to fend off looters who made repeated attempts to steal hospital equipment, including the ambulances.
DR. HASSAN NAJB: We tried our best to keep them. Two of them have been stolen and the other has been left here.
JULIAN MANYON: Two ambulances were stolen?
DR. HASSAN NAJB: Yes. Two ambulances.
JULIAN MANYON: Why did they steal them?
DR. HASSAN NAJB: We don’t know. Ask them.
DR. HASSAN NAJB: Reporter: In the streets of the historic city, one of the oldest inhabited places on earth, the rampage went on, and the few Kurdish troops in Mosul seemed to have little interest in stopping it. The roads into Mosul became jammed with vehicles, with drivers either trying to get into the city to pillage it or get out with their loot. In the city center, Arab crowds became angry and a western television crew was stoned. In the afternoon, the first American troops appeared, a handful of Special Forces soldiers accompanied by truckloads of elite Kurdish commandos. The Kurds moved quickly to secure the city center, but soon after we took these pictures, the Americans came under rifle fire and pulled out. Tonight, Mosul is at long last without fear of Saddam Hussein, but also, without law or government.
KWAME HOLMAN: Lawlessness also reigned in parts of Baghdad this evening. Government buildings– including the education, industry, trade and planning ministries– all were on fire. This is the third day of rampaging in the capital. At one government building, Iraqis took food that had been stored there. At Ba’ath Party headquarters, furniture was being hauled away. A stack of mattresses was carted off in a wheelbarrow despite hand-written signs that said in Arabic “Looting is forbidden under Islam.” At the Pentagon this afternoon, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said prominent reporting of the chaos in Baghdad and other cities overstates the seriousness of the problems.
DONALD RUMSFELD: The images you are seeing on television you are seeing over and over and over, and it’s the same picture of some person walking out of some building with a vase, and you see it 20 times and you think, “my goodness, were there that many vases?” (Laughter) Is it possible that there were that many vases in the whole country?
REPORTER: Do you think that the words “anarchy” and “lawlessness” are ill-chosen…
DONALD RUMSFELD: Absolutely. I picked up a newspaper today and I couldn’t believe it. I read eight headlines that talked about chaos, violence, unrest. And it just was Henny-Penny, “the sky is falling.” I’ve never seen anything like it. And here is a country that’s being liberated, here are people e going from being repressed and held under the thumb of a vicious dictator, and they’re free. And all this newspaper could do, with eight or ten headlines, they showed a man bleeding, a civilian, who they claimed we had shot… one thing after another. It’s just unbelievable how people can take that away from what is happening in that country. Do I think those words are unrepresentative? Yes.
KWAME HOLMAN: Still, throughout Baghdad, U.S. soldiers began enforcing a dusk to dawn curfew. The International Red Cross said today that Baghdad’s medical system was on the verge of collapse. Few if any of the city’s 33 hospitals could function they said because of looting, combat damage, or medical personnel who hadn’t come to work. This hospital was stripped nearly bare. Even light bulbs were taken. U.S. tanks and troops were deployed to Baghdad’s main hospital to keep looters in check. Care was diminished. Some relatives took over basic tasks. A young boy held an I.V. line for his sister. The Red Cross called on U.S. forces to restore order. 100 miles north of Baghdad in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s birthplace and a regime stronghold, U.S. bombing was intensified. U.S. Commander Gen. Tommy Franks, was asked by reporters in Afghanistan if the members of the Iraqi leadership may have fled to Tikrit.
GEN. TOMMY FRANKS: All of you know me will guess the answer before I give it. There are either dead or running like hell. And so that is the case with the leadership of the regime inside Iraq.
KWAME HOLMAN: There also have been reports some Iraqis have fled west to the Syrian border. U.S. Special Operations forces have set up road blocks along main roads there. At CENTCOM headquarters in Qatar this morning, Brigadier Gen. Vincent Brooks was asked what has caused intense fighting there.
BRIG. GEN. VINCENT BROOKS: Al Qaim is an area that we know to be geographically located in such a way that it could potentially be used for the launching of surface-to- surface missiles that would range neighboring countries and threaten them. We know that it historically had been used for that purpose, and we also know that there is a capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction. It’s also located on a very critical crossroad between Iraq and Syria. And given some of the reports of infiltration attempts or exfiltration attempts by regime leaders or by foreign fighters, that remains a concern to us also.
KWAME HOLMAN: U.S. Officials say they have intelligence reports that some Iraqi leaders in al- Qaim may be ready to surrender. Sixty miles west of Baghdad, in Ramadi, U.S. warplanes fired six satellite guided missiles at a building used by Iraqi intelligence. Saddam’s half brother, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti was thought to be inside. Al Tikriti headed Saddam’s secret police. U.S. military officials have a new way to help identify the most wanted Iraqi leaders. They’ve issued soldiers in the field a stack of photos on playing cards.
BRIG. GEN. VINCENT BROOKS: The key list has 55 individuals who may be pursued, killed or captured, and the list does not exclude leaders who may have already been killed or captured. This list has been provided to coalition forces on the ground in several forms to ease identification when contact does occur. And this deck of cards is one example of what we provide to soldiers out… soldiers and marines out in the field with the faces of the individuals and what their role is.
REPORTER: Could I just ask you because I must. Saddam Hussein, is he the queen of hearts, the ace of spades or one of the jokers you referred to?
BRIG. GEN. VINCENT BROOKS: Well, I haven’t sorted all the way through the deck, and I would play cards with you, but I’d probably lose. So, I’m not going to do that. He’s in there somewhere, though, I can assure you.
KWAME HOLMAN: Meanwhile, in southern Iraq, there was more looting in Basra. But there also were signs of a return to normalcy in Iraq’s second largest city as Muslims gathered for Friday prayers. As of today, the U.S. military reported 107 soldiers and marines killed in the war. More than 400 have been wounded. Ten are missing, and seven still are listed as prisoners of war. The official British death toll remained 31. There is no reliable count of Iraqi soldiers and civilians who’ve been killed or wounded, but it is believed to be in the thousands. Jim?
JIM LEHRER: Thanks, Kwame. Across the Middle East, a number of Islamic clerics appealed today for an end to the war during Friday prayers. In Iran, the supreme religious leader welcomed the fall of Saddam Hussein, but he also urged U.S. troops to go home. He said: “You toppled Saddam, now leave.” In the Iranian capital, Iraqi exiles stormed and ransacked their own embassy. They protested both Saddam Hussein and the U.S. presence in Iraq. Officials of three main opponents of the war met today to discuss what comes next. The leaders of Russia, Germany and France gathered in St. Petersburg, Russia. They called again for the United Nations to lead the effort to rebuild Iraq. Russian Pres. Putin warned the U.S. And Britain would look like colonial powers, if they delay putting the U.N. in charge.