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The Briefing

April 5, 2003 at 12:00 AM EDT


TOM BEARDEN: This morning, General Renuart was quizzed about early reports that U.S. troops had entered Baghdad in force.

MAJ. GEN. VICTOR RENUART: This was an operation conducted by two task forces of the 3rd infantry division. They in fact had been south of the city and conducted a raid through the city proceeding north to, through the Tigris River, and then continuing out to the west in the direction of the airport.

TOM BEARDEN: He was asked if U.S. forces met any difficulties inside the city.

MAJ. GEN. VICTOR RENUART: The challenge with that were pockets of very intense fighting. As I mentioned, we had a task force that moved through the city, made up of both Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and Abrams tanks. The fight through there was characterized by a number of irregular forces mixed with Republican Guard or special Republican Guard infantry fighting positions; rocket- propelled grenades; nests of irregular forces and the technical vehicles that I described earlier; and air-to- air artillery weapons that were used in a direct-fire mode against our forces– so 23- millimeter, 57-millimeter anti- aircraft cannons that were used in a direct-fire mode against our forces. It was, as was reported, intense fighting in areas.

On the other hand, in some areas people were standing on the sidewalks waving to us. So clearly there is confusion in Baghdad, clearly there is, there is some chaos in terms of the command and control and ability of the military defending Baghdad. On the other hand, there are people who appear to acknowledge the presence of coalition forces favorably.

TOM BEARDEN: Renuart said the intent of putting armor into Baghdad was to send the Iraqi government a message, that coalition forces could enter the city at will.

GEOF MEADE, Sky News: At times, sir, your review sounded almost like a victory speech. Was it? Have you now reached the tipping point? And can I ask the daily weapons- of-mass-destruction question? They haven’t been deployed. They haven’t been discovered. Is this war going to make history by being ended before you’ve found its cause?

MAJ. GEN. VICTOR RENUART: That’s a great question. Let me first say that in no way should any of the comments I made be taken as a victory speech. Victory will come, of that there is no doubt, but this fight is far from over. As we have said, we’ve been able to move into the area of Baghdad City. As you look at the map of Iraq, you’ll note that there are many other parts of the country where we have not yet taken control of enemy forces in that region, and so the fight will continue. The fight is far from finished in Baghdad.

As to weapons of mass destruction, I think we continue to look at sites around the country, but I think as I mentioned last week as I was up here, many of the sites that we believe were most likely were in areas that we had not yet put troops. We’re beginning to close down some of these areas and put troops into there, and we will in fact, over time, go through each of the sites where we believe to be… that they may have stored, hidden, or in some way cached any kind of weapon of mass destruction.

MAJ. GEN. VICTOR RENUART: Earlier, General Renuart offered additional details on the rescue of PFC Jessica Lynch.

MAJ. GEN. VICTOR RENUART: As the team entered the hospital room, they found private lynch in a hospital bed. The first man approached the door and came in and called her name. She had been scared, had the sheet up over her head ’cause she didn’t know what was happening. She lowered the sheet from her head. She didn’t really respond yet because I think she was probably pretty scared. The soldier again said, “Jessica Lynch, we’re the United States soldiers, and we’re here to protect you and take you home.” She seemed to understand that, and she, as he walked over, took his helmet off, she looked up to him and said, “I’m an American soldier, too.”

TOM BEARDEN: General Renuart says the rescue of PFC Lynch is a demonstration of how the allies have mastered the art of combined operations, using all of their assets to bring one of their own home.