LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES
British Troops Killed in Iraq; Israelis Throw Out Dragnet
Aired June 24, 2003 - 19:01 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We begin tonight with two developing stories, both about the troubled path in the search for peace, Jane Arraf in Baghdad and Sheila MacVicar in Gaza City.
First, we go to Jane Arraf in Iraq, where several British troops were killed in fighting today and American troops are also the targets of violence -- Jane.
JANE ARRAF, CNN BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF: Anderson, we'd always thought of the south under British control as really quite peaceful, but it seems as if these guerrilla attacks are spreading throughout the country.
Now, today, we've seen six British soldiers killed. They were members of the British police who are military police who are training Iraqi police forces. This was about 120 miles north of Basra, the southern city on the port, in a town called al-Amarah. Now, six were killed there. And in an incident that appeared to be at the same time in roughly the same geographical area, another six soldiers -- another eight soldiers, rather -- were wounded.
These were from the parachute regiment. They were on a routine patrol when they were attacked by rocket-propelled grenades, heavy weapons fire and machine guns as well. They were reinforced by a helicopter. And the people in that helicopter, British soldiers, were wounded as well, again, a very dramatic incident at roughly the same time, the first of its kind in the south and certainly the heaviest toll of U.S. or British forces since the war has ended -- Anderson.
COOPER: Jane, we've also, of course, seen a lot of attacks against American troops. How coordinated do those attacks continue to be and how vulnerable are U.S. forces?
ARRAF: Well, U.S. officials continue to say they're not seeing any coordination on a regional or a national level, but, certainly, these two attacks, very dramatic and deadly ones in the south, would indicate that those two particularly would seem to be coordinated and seem to have involved large numbers of Iraqi attackers.
Now, as for the American troops, that is a really tough one, because they're vulnerable on so many fronts. And they are more vulnerable the longer they stay. They seem to be vulnerable, because, in some communities, they are getting very deeply entrenched in the communities, which doesn't really make everyone happy. In others, they're being blamed for not being visible enough -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Jane Arraf, still such a dangerous place. Thanks very much tonight from Baghdad.
Our other top story now, we go to the Middle East. The Israelis throw out a dragnet to pull in suspects allegedly connected to Hamas. And that has got some worried about the chances for a negotiated cease-fire.
Sheila MacVicar is in Gaza City tonight -- Sheila.
SHEILA MACVICAR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That series of raids, Anderson, began late last night. It continued into the early hours of this morning, yesterday morning in my time.
More than 150 Palestinians, all of them in the West Bank, taken into detention, and that is now becoming one of the obstacles towards announcing what has been discussed as the possibility of a cease-fire between the Palestinian militant groups and the Palestinian Authority. There is another obstacle. You will remember, perhaps, that there was a Hamas militant killed in Hebron by Israeli forces on Saturday night.
The Israeli still hold his body. And we are told that, until the body is returned, which the Israelis say they intend to do, and until he's buried, if there is a decision to announce a cease-fire, that cease-fire cannot be announced until those things take place. We have these obstacles. We obviously have a tremendous amount of pressure pushing towards this cease-fire. But, at the moment, we have no firm decision that there will in fact be a cease-fire -- Anderson.
COOPER: Well, Sheila, how likely is it this roundup by the Israelis could actually provoke military action or new military action by Hamas?
MACVICAR: That's not one of the things that we are hearing. You have to remember that there's tremendous pressure being brought to bear against these militant groups, pressure from the Palestinian side, pressure from the international community.
The government of Egypt has been intensely involved in these negotiations. And, right now, two senior militants, part of the outside leadership of both Hamas and Islamic Jihad, are in Cairo. They've been meeting today with Egyptian authorities. We heard earlier today from the Egyptian foreign minister that he said he believed a cease-fire might be possible in two or three days. You have to remember, the cease-fire isn't the end game here, certainly not for the Israelis and certainly not for Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.
The cease-fire is supposed to give a bit of breathing space, give some time to have life begin to return to normal. But it's expected that, in that period of time, that three months that's being discussed, they will be disarmed and not prepared to relaunch terror attacks -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Sheila MacVicar, thanks very much tonight.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com