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Despite Attacks, Some U.S. Troops Enjoy July 4 Holiday

Aired July 4, 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: First we begin with grim reminders from Iraq that on this anniversary of America's war of independence, America's latest war is not yet over.
A couple of developments to tell you about right now. A new audiotape has surfaced. You probably have heard about it, said to have been made by ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

There were also more attacks against Americans and there was an explosion at a mosque in Fallujah.

In Fallujah is where we find senior international correspondent Nic Robertson -- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, that audiotape purportedly coming from Saddam Hussein delivered to Al-Jazeera, the Arab television news network, delivered to them by telephone.

Now on the tape, the man speaking on the tape claims to be Saddam Hussein says that the tape was recorded on the 14th of June.

On that tape, he says that he is still in Iraq. He says that will are Jihad cells and battalions being formed in Iraq, that there are Mujahedeen fighters that are fighting what he calls the U.S. occupation forces. He warns and tells the people of Iraq to support these fighters, to support these Jihadi groups and warns the coalition of more attacks to come.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SADDAM HUSSEIN, FORMER IRAQI PRESIDENT (through translator): There's not a day that passes by in the last few weeks that their blood is not spilt on our great lands, done by Mujahedeen. In the next days it will be more difficult on the invaders and even more honorable to the believers.

Therefore, I encourage you to cover on the Mujahedeen and our heroes and not give the invaders and conspirators any information on their activities.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COOPER: Now, while the coalition will be giving this tape a technical analysis, people we played it to on the streets of Baghdad that they believe, the vast majority believe it sounds like Saddam Hussein. This, the Fourth of July, a day here when many U.S. troops, and there are 150,000, almost, of them inside Iraq, many of them would have liked to have been at home celebrating with their families. Some of them getting a chance to take some time out to relax. But many of them going around their duties and some of them coming under attack.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON: Repairing their base, U.S. troops improve security, following an overnight attack. Sixteen soldiers injured here at Balad, an hour's drive north of Baghdad, when unknown assailants fired at least three mortars into the camp.

Not far away, the U.S. says 11 Iraqis were killed a little later when they ambushed a U.S. patrol.

Another U.S. soldier was injured in an attack on a convoy west of Baghdad, and yet one more killed by small arms fire while on guard duty in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, on a lakeside beach some shootouts of a different kind: harmless Fourth of July fun for U.S. troops enjoying a national holiday.

Others work on their tans or cool off in one of Iraq's massive lakes just outside Fallujah, west of Baghdad. American Independence Day providing a rare opportunity for these soldiers to relax and reflect on what they're missing back home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My family and my wife and kids.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mainly the fireworks.

ROBERTSON: At a base in Baghdad, troops treated to a two-for-one burger deal as the only true American burger joint in Iraq. Most here thankful.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sometimes I think, being in the United States, that we forget the things that we take for granted and over here we have been reminded many times over that we're very, very lucky to be Americans.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTSON: With the recent increase in frequency and sophistication of attacks on many of the U.S. soldiers here, for those who have been able to enjoy a little break, this day, memories, Anderson, are likely to savor for some time to come.

COOPER: Yes. Might get even more difficult with this new tape being released, emboldening those oppose the U.S. and British presence.

Nic Robertson, thanks very much for that report.

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