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CNN PRESENTS

The Road to Baghdad, Part 2

Aired June 29, 2003 - 20:00   ET

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

ANNOUNCER: Previously on "The Road to Baghdad."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Bush Doctrine stated very clearly that the United States doesn't have to cooperate with anybody, that if we feel a threat of being attacked by a foreign power, we're going to strike.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: The war begins with a strike to decapitate the regime of Saddam Hussein. Just one day later, ground troops enter from Kuwait.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Imagine for a moment a giant wave of steel sweeping across the southern Iraqi desert.

ANNOUNCER: Then more bombs fall on Baghdad.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This was the beginning essentially of the war that we'd heard about, the shock and awe.

ANNOUNCER: But within a week, ground forces encounter unexpected resistance. Supply lines sneaking through the desert become vulnerable.

Five members of the Army's 507th Maintenance Company appear on Arab TV as prisoners of war.

ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was the first week of the war. And it wasn't going really well.

ANNOUNCER: Civilian casualties dominate the airwaves in the Arab world. And Iraqi suicide bombings up the ante.

Meanwhile, the war plan itself comes under fire.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There was a big debate at that point whether they ought to pause and bring in more troops and take a more cautious approach, or whether they ought to stick to their plan, which was a little more bold and audacious and continue to push toward Baghdad. ANNOUNCER: The result, extra troops are deployed to secure supply lines, but the main goal, taking Baghdad, does not change.

Now coalition troops are on the road to Baghdad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Medina division, according to some sources, has now been degraded by Air Force bombing by at least 50, perhaps upwards of 70 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what was seen was hit. And what was hit was destroyed.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Some units are laying down their arms and surrendering to coalition forces, wisely choosing not to die, fighting for a doomed regime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We see some very significant weakening. And it will hit a tipping point in some of their formations.

ANNOUNCER: It was a war plan second guessed by pundits and generals, but after two weeks of combat, it was a war plan yielding results.

COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Baghdad is slowly being encircled. Pockets of resistance are being isolated. The oil fields are secure. Humanitarian aid is beginning to flow. I have total confidence in the plan.

ANNOUNCER: In the north, coalition aircraft pounded the Iraqi positions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once he gets in contact with the aircraft, then they could drop the bombs.

ANNOUNCER: While U.S. green beret quietly aided the Kurdish Peshmurga fighters.

But the war in south got most of the attention. The original plan called for U.S. and British forces to steer clear of the cities between Kuwait and Baghdad.

That doctrine changed. Ambushes, paramilitary attacks, suicide bombings were new Iraqi tactics. The coalition adapted. Wherever the enemy hid, the enemy would be hunted.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is where it gets dangerous for the Marines because it is now house to house kind of searching.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come out, come out now!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come out, come out! Open the door! Open the door! Get your hands up and come outside. Come outside! Everybody in the house needs to come outside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep going, keep going, keep going, keep going.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, clear the house now.

SAVIDGE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) sort of very angry at the Marines because the trauma that they're inducing on the family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's sweep on down straight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you forget that they're trying to clear a village, a town. And they're trying to control a population. And that there are embedded within that population people trying to murder them at that moment.

ANNOUNCER: The tough tactics were part of a coalition strategy not to let unconventional warfare slow them down.

KELLY MCCANN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: On a larger sense, basically, what General Franks said, what Rumsfeld said, what Tony Blair said was do your damndest. Have at it. If you think we won't come in the city, you're wrong. If you think a few suicide bombers are going to make us wrong, you're wrong. If you think that we won't fight in chemical warfare, we are wrong.

ANNOUNCER: Basra was a test of that strategy. British troops attacked on two fronts. Search and destroy missions against the Fedayeen, while trying to win the hearts and minds of civilians.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you meet and greet the people, if you get down to their level, if you play with their children and given them sweeties, it's much harder for someone to shoot you in the back.

ANNOUNCER: In towns across Iraq, the mood was unpredictable. In the city of Najaf, blocks away from a sacred Shi'ia mosque, soldiers from the 101st Airborne ran into trouble. The troops were heading to a house for a pre-arranged meeting with the local religious leader.

RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And they thought that the soldiers were going to the mosque. So this perfectly friendly crowd, slightly reserved, all of a sudden just goes berserk in the course of 30 seconds.

And the commander kind of comes up, this guy, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Hughes. So he tells his soldiers to take a knee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody relax.

CHILCOTE: And so they all get down on one knee. And then he says, you know, try and appear, you know, friendly, friendly as you can, you know, with a weapon. And pointed weapons at the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...vehicles turn around. Turn around. Be prepared to move the other direction time now.

GREG DANILENRO, CNN PHOTOGRAPHER: The crowds thought that they were pulling back. So they decided to pull back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Move.

DANILENRO: And eventually, the colonel decided, well, you know, perhaps they were going to lose face, but it was better to lose this battle than to lose the war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get in formation. We got to move. Turn around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just turn around and go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We went out towards the crowd, bowed to them, waved, and just walked away.

ANNOUNCER: Meanwhile, 2,000 miles away, Jessica Lynch, a prisoner of war from the 507th Maintenance Company, arrived in Germany, the final leg of a high profile rescue played out before Defense Department cameras.

MCINTYRE: So there's a real ethic in the military about not leaving anyone behind.

VINCI: We were told that there was going to be a rescue. And they were talking about precious cargo. You know, Jessica Lynch was nicknamed - precious cargo.

JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I remember hearing the helicopters go up the river and Marines saying, "There they are. They're going in for the kill. They're going in for the rescue right now."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Within minutes that the operation began, we heard, you know, precious cargo secured.

ANNOUNCER: The Pentagon presented dramatic video of the rescue. Later accounts from Iraqi doctors at the hospital said Jessica Lynch had been well treated and that there was no armed resistance to the American troops.

Whether or not the Pentagon overplayed the drama of the rescue, there's no question it boosted public morale.

LT. GEN. DAVID MCKIERNAN, U.S. ARMY: When you have the opportunity to give back one of your own off the battlefield, I think it's something that makes everybody feel good.

ANNOUNCER: Troop morale was high as well. The U.S. 3rd Infantry and the Royal Marines completed their northward drives across Iraq. The U.S. 101st Airborne controlled key points throughout the southern region.

U.S. Marines had pushed up the Tigris. The coalition was converging on Baghdad.

BUSH: The course is set. We're on the advance. And we will accept nothing less than complete and final victory.

ANNOUNCER: The end seemed within reach, but ahead lay the heart of a desperate regime and the dreaded red zone.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was impressive was the coordination of the air on the ground and the grip of the advance.

There was no give in this force. It was very, very powerful at the framing.

MCCANN: People have known that they can't match the Americans tank for tank, plane for plane, person for person. So the idea is well, we'll introduce chemical warfare because we know coalition won't use that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sure there was concern that he might employ chemical weapons. If he had used them or if he does use them, we will fight through it.

ANNOUNCER: The final advance into Baghdad was fast and violent.

WALTER RODGERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We came under some very serious fire. At one point, I could see bullets, you know, hitting in the dusk beside us 20 feet out on either side of the car. We could hear the RPGs going over. And we could see the anti-aircraftic ex 20 millimeter going over our head.

ANNOUNCER: American troops were about to enter the red zone, the point where Iraqi forces might attack with weapons of mass destruction. Here in a meeting with his land war commanders, Lieutenant General David McKiernan.

MCKIERNAN: Starting today and tonight and over the next couple of days is the start of the big maneuver fight in the red zone here. The Baghdad division's going to get isolated. It is going down.

I came up with the term "the red zone," kind of based on that analogy that, you know, you get inside the 20 yard line and maybe it gets a little harder to move the ball. And you got to pound it out a little bit then.

And we thought that when we got to that point, it might be a trigger for his use of weapons of mass destruction.

ANNOUNCER: But the Iraqi army proved no match for coalition forces. At a narrow strip of lands called the Karbala Gap, a place where military leaders first feared a chemical attack, American troops pounded the Republican Guard's Medina Division.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 3rd Infantry Division took Karbala with a minimum of fight. This, as it continues to push ever closer towards the southern suburbs of Baghdad.

ANNOUNCER: Iraqi fighters vanished after encountering U.S. troops in Najaf.

CHILCOTE: All of the Fedayeen fighters, the so-called, you know, paramilitary fighters, had fled. The commander said that he'd given them what he called a golden bridge, a way out of the city to the north.

ANNOUNCER: And Iraqi troops abandoned positions in the hills of northern Iraq.

RODGERS: There were no surrenders. They essentially disappeared.

ANNOUNCER: CNN photographer David Turnley encountered a former member of the Republican Guard, who had just fled the battlefield. The man shielded his face with his own child so he would not be recognized.

DAVID TURNLEY, CNN PHOTOGRAPHER: He looked very pained, as if the life appeared to have been drained from him and said I didn't tell you this, but actually, I only arrived here last night, an hour before you did. I had been a major officer in the Republican Guard in Baghdad, and I've just come home.

You know, we were not supportive of Saddam Hussein. He said I - that's not my problem right now. He said the question we just continue to ask ourselves is did he have to be removed this way? Was there not another way to do it?

MCKIERNAN: When we did our assessment of Saddam Hussein, his regime, his military capabilities, we knew before we ever started this fight that he had morale problems, he had manning problems, he had equipment problems. We thought if we put a lot of heat on them from the start, that we could probably break their will to fight.

ANNOUNCER: In the end, the Iraqi army was simply overwhelmed.

GEN. WESLEY CLARK, (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It's a remarkable mismatch between forces. One force, the best in the world, maybe the best that's ever been, well trained, incredible technology, well led, determined. The other force, not well trained, demoralized, dug in.

The defenders should have had the advantage by any war game you'd ever run. In this case, the defender was obliterated.

ANNOUNCER: Even as American troops dominated the field and edged closer to Baghdad, Iraq's information minister insisted that Iraq had the upper hand.

MOHAMMED SAYED AL-SAHAF, IRAQI INFORMATION MINISTER: They are not near Baghdad. Don't believe them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could they be trapped?

AL-SAHAF: They are trapped everywhere in the country.

ANNOUNCER: This Baghdad resident said early in the war, Iraqis took al Sahaf's words to heart.

FAWAZ AL-MUFTI, DR., BAGHDAD RESIDENT: When Sahaf would come out and like boost our ego, boost our self-confidence. And we did this. We're going to do that. We wanted to believe. We wanted to believe that hey, maybe people are actually fighting. Maybe he - Saddam Hussein could have changed?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's firing off to the right, big firing off to the right.

ANNOUNCER: Even with the defeat of Iraq's Republican Guard, U.S. troops took steady fire, as they moved within miles of Baghdad. The danger intensified the closer they got.

VICTORIA CLARKE, PENTAGON SPOKESPERSON: As much as we are making good progress, and we are, the toughest fighting could lie ahead. The likelihood that they might use chemical weapons is in front of us now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have seen probably 20 or so Iraqi soldiers dead, lying close to the road. Virtually every one that our crew has been able to check was carrying a gas mask.

ANNOUNCER: But American troops were also prepared.

CLARK: It's unlikely that Saddam, even if he had wanted to fire chemicals, it's unlikely he could've. And we weren't presenting a very lucrative target. We were spread out. We were armored. We were protected. His short range chemical weapons delivery system wouldn't have had much of an impact.

ANNOUNCER: Before U.S. soldiers, the possibility of a chemical attack had enormous impact.

RODGERS: The orders were for 7th Cavalry and every other Army unit that I knew, if you get hit with an artillery barrage, chemical, biological weapons, you put on your chemical weapons suit and you fight right on through it. And when you achieve your objective, then you come back and you decontaminate.

It was a very real threat. It was present in everyone's minds. There was never any thought that the Iraqis had a hope in hell against the U.S. Army, but that one wild card in the deck of chemical or biological weapons was always there.

ANNOUNCER: In the end, Iraq never played that card. But as U.S. troops forged through the red zone and into Baghdad, another threat loomed.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got to work our way north.

ANNOUNCER: As U.S. troops sprinted toward Baghdad, Iraqi citizens who could moved out. The buzz in the capitol, war in the streets was about to happen. AL-MUFTI: Lots of rumors that Saddam Hussein was going to retreat into Baghdad from the airport and retreat into like Baghdad, and lure them into his den, into where he is going to end everything.

ANNOUNCER: In the war room in Kuwait, the ground war commander, General McKiernan confirmed from day one of the campaign every maneuver was intended to lead to this, the battle for Baghdad.

MCKIERNAN: Well, as fast as we could get through this crust of the regular army defense and the southern part of Iraq, and put pressure on the heart of the regime, Baghdad, is what we wanted to do. Well, we went for the jugular.

ANNOUNCER: The first big target, Saddam International Airport, 12 miles from downtown Baghdad.

MAJOR GEN. WILLIAM WEBSTER, U.S. ARMY: Right now, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in about 10 minutes, they're going to begin and attack to seize the airport. For us, it's a huge strategic objective because anyone who was planning to try to leave by air can no longer do so.

ANNOUNCER: The Iraqis countered with a media offensive.

SADDAM HUSSEIN, FMR. PRESIDENT, IRAQ: Dear people of Baghdad and people of Iraq, you are a symbol of dignity. And with God's help, you'll be victorious.

ANNOUNCER: Later, Arab television stations broadcast video of Saddam strolling through a Baghdad neighborhood. The smoke in the picture suggested to U.S. intelligence officials the tape might have been shot that day, April 4th, meaning Saddam was still alive.

After closer study, they weren't so sure.

DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They have now concluded, based on what they saw of the buildings, and certain changes that they say have occurred that the tape was actually made in the first week of March, not April 4, as was claimed. It's a fake. It may be real Saddam, but it's not April 4.

ANNOUNCER: Fake Saddam or not, it took only about a day of fighting for the U.S. to proclaim it had secured the airport.

BRIG. GEN. VINCENT BROOKS, U.S. ARMY: By dawn this morning, the coalition had seized the international airport west of Baghdad, formerly known as Saddam International Airport. The airport now has a new name, Baghdad International Airport. And it is a gateway to the future Iraq.

ANNOUNCER: On the doorstep of the capitol, U.S. troops were facing one of the worst fears of the war, the possibility of door to door, urban combat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your team's coming up here with us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got a window to the right.

ANNOUNCER: Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Sayed al-Sahaf issued a threat.

AL-SAHAF (through translator): This evening, we will carry out something that is untraditional against them, a military action that is not ordinary.

Not conventional.

ANNOUNCER: The threat was an empty one. In fact, the U.S. grew bolder with audacious daytime raids into Baghdad proper. Thunder runs, they were called.

This exclusive video, taken from the turret of a U.S. tank, shows one of the first runs into the Iraqi capitol.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These guys just seemed to be everywhere. And as a tanker, we talk about having as much as stand-off from the enemy as we can, but these guys were so close that day, and dug in, you know, along both sides of the road, that there was this feeling that, well, we need to fire them with everything we got.

ANNOUNCER: The thunder runs soon focused on presidential palaces.

MCINTYRE: These attacks that were initially launched on Baghdad were probing attacks to determine exactly what kind of response they would get. When the U.S. Army went into Saddam Hussein's palaces, the initial plan was to go to the palaces, go through them, and then leave. But when they got there, and they realized that there was nobody really challenging them and they could stay, they did stay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isn't it time now that you surrendered or sued for peace?

AL-SAHAF: They are going to surrender. They are going to surrender or be burned in their towns.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By this time, the cheeky announcements of al- Sahaf had earned him a worldwide cult following.

AL-SAHAF: (through translator) They are beginning to commit suicide on the walls of Baghdad.

ANNOUNCER: The coalition was suffering few casualties, but Baghdad hospitals were filling with Iraqi wounded and dead.

AL-MUFTI: All day long, we were with the patients, resuscitating. The whole place, I don't want to sound disgusting, but the whole place smelled so much like blood.

ANNOUNCER: While not targeting civilians, the U.S. was firing on buildings used as cover for attacks on them.

News organizations questioned the judgment of advancing troops when a U.S. tank fired on the Palestine Hotel, killing two journalists. The U.S. said there were snipers there. Journalists staying at the hotel said they neither saw nor heard sniper fire.

The same day, a U.S. air strike on a building housing Arab media killed an al Jazeera television reporter. Al Jazeera, which had been showing a lot of pictures of dead Iraqi civilians claimed it was deliberately targeted. The Pentagon denied it.

Unphased by the criticism, the U.S. moved forward relentlessly in the city center. And from the air, another decapitation strike against Saddam Hussein and his family. 12 minutes after receiving a tip that Saddam and his sons were in a bunker beneath a restaurant, a B-1 dropped 8,000 pounds of bombs on the target.

ENSOR: My sources tell me there was a human agent, at least one, on the ground who thought he saw, and it was a he, Saddam Hussein going into that building or that little complex of buildings.

As I speak to you now, they are still not sure whether Saddam Hussein was in that building or not.

ANNOUNCER: The feared urban combat did not materialize. The Republican Guard was putting up less of a fight than many had expected.

CLARK: The Republican Guards obviously haven't received good training. They weren't well equipped. They were a force that's been degraded even since the 1991 experience. Air power took care of much of the Republican Guards.

ANNOUNCER: With Iraqi forces dead, captured or in full retreat, Baghdad was poised to fall.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good-bye Saddam! There he goes, there he goes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the statue fell, that was when Iraqis started to believe, hey, it might be the end. Many people deep inside, they wanted to scream out and shout. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) America! But that didn't happen because everyone was -- they were all afraid. Hey, he's coming back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the streets of Baghdad, rumbling tanks, jubilant crowds, celebration, liberation, and chaos.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was an extraordinary sight. For one who had covered Iraq in the past, to see the center of the city teaming with American tanks, and marines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So far, so fast. It wasn't supposed to be this way. The battle for Baghdad was expected to be the big one. By April 9, however, U.S. tanks and armor were in the center of the Iraqi capital, taking charge. And already running out of targets. In the end, one image told the entire story. Saddam's rule was all but over. The noose had tightened literally and figuratively. But even this poignant moment was open to interpretation. One simple gesture exposed the thin line between liberation and the fears of occupation.

FAWAZ GERGES, MIDEAST SCHOLAR: Many Arabs and Muslims I will argue were happy to see the tyranny is over. Yet they were not convinced, because on Arab television stations saw an American name (ph) wrapping an American flag on -- around Saddam Hussein's face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The symbolism was not lost on the Pentagon either.

MCINTYRE: There was sort of an "uh oh" moment. Uh oh, that's not the picture that we want to send. On the other hand, nobody was really to upset about it. That's what marines do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While there was jubilation in some quarters of Baghdad, there was open warfare, even anarchy in others.

SAVIDGE: There was a certain euphoria that was contagious, that was passing from the people of the streets, to the marines in their vehicles. And then we came around one corner.

And then suddenly sideways, off to our left, there was several explosions. And those were RPG rounds and (ph) missiles (ph) coming. And then gunfire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just blocks way from the dancing in Theodorf (ph) square, the first battalion seventh marines were engaged in a blistering firefight, at Baghdad University.

SAVIDGE: It was just so odd to hear all the while in my earpiece, people cheering, people celebrating and yet I thought from where we were at that moment, we stood a very good chance of dying amidst all of that joy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the early hours of the new Iraq, Baghdad was a city of extremes, euphoria, and firefights, life, and death. Beyond the loss of life, there was another casualty of war, law, and order. Baghdad descended into chaos.

AMANPOUR: It was wild that first week. Anything that anybody could get their hands on was taken. Even the soldiers we spoke to were quite stunned by what they had seen. They destroyed ministries. They destroyed warehouses. They destroyed all sorts of places including hospitals. It was very violent in it's intensity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing seemed safe or sacred in Baghdad. Not even history. In the orgy of looting, mobs ransacked the Iraqi National Museum, leaving Iraq's cultural heritage in peaces on the ground.

GERGES: These images have done a great deal of damage to America's campaign in Iraq. Why did the United States, many Iraqis and Arabs argue, make sure that their own ministry is well guarded and preserved? Couldn't the United States do the same thing to Iraqi museums?

MCINTYRE: This was one of the functions of succeeding faster than they expected. They didn't have enough troops on the ground to prevent all this looting. But a lot of that looting that took place took place while there was still fighting going on in the city.

UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: In three short days American troops had gone from heroes to reluctant policemen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only other way I could have stopped it was to start using force. And it wasn't -- I'm not going to start using force on these people. I think they've had enough of that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The battle for Baghdad was over. But the battle to win the peace had only just begun.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Baghdad had fallen. The regime's victims were just beginning to emerge.

BELLINI: I think what (ph) you're seeing there, the beginning of a very long process. A long reckoning with the past. And with accepting what had happened under the Saddam regime, which they were not aloud to talk about even among themselves during Saddam's regime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the capital captured, military attention turned to the north. In late March, paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Division had dropped into Northern Iraq to establish the so- called northern front.

BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All right, good morning, Brent Sadler from CNN.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: U.S. Special Forces and journalists were already there. Welcome to Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That lightly armed force was largely symbolic. Intended to reassure Turkey of an American presence in the primarily Kurdish region. Because (ph) historic antagonism between Turks and Kurds had prompted a Turkish threat to send thousands of troops into Northern Iraq if a war started. Among other things, Turkey was fearful of Kurdish control of Iraq's northern oil fields.

SADLER: The Iraqi Kurds were making it quite clear that if Turkey intervened militarily, there would be a war within the wider war of an invasion against Iraq. This was very very serious indeed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With difficulties getting it's own troops in, the U.S. turned to Kurdish ground forces, the Peshmerga, literally those who face death. They numbered 60 to 70,000 soldiers. To appease Turkey, the Kurds agreed to operate under the command of U.S. Special Forces.

Here's an example of how the cooperation worked on the battlefield. The target, Iraqi bunkers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: …got one right there that I'm looking at, looks like that's a man (ph) up on top of that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Special Forces call in coordinates to a B-52 in the sky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another strike.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fire!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This time with mortar (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roger, we're firing for the first bunker, and we need you to adjust it (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Peshmerga occupied town after town. Always in the background, U.S. Special Forces. Iraq's northern front was collapsing.

SADLER: This gives you a sense of what it's like at the very edge of a front line that's just full (ph) into these Iraqi Kurds. They've just taken this territory, and they are ecstatic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iraqi soldiers surrender by the thousands.

SAVIDGE: Many of these soldiers were walking on tarmac in their bare feet. They were giving V-signs. These were defeated soldiers. But they were happy soldiers. Why were they happy? Because one, they were leaving the army of Saddam Hussein, two, they were alive, and three, they were going home. Home was a seven-day walk to southern Iraq. It was one of the most memorable moments of the war for me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One day after Baghdad fell, coalition and Kurdish troops rolled through Kirkuk, Mozils (ph), a day after that. There were celebrations across Northern Iraq. The Kurds kept their word not operate independently of U.S. command. The Turks had stayed put. The northern oil fields were secured.

Eyes turned southward to Saddam Hussein hometown Tikrit, for a possible last stand. Marines advancing on Tikrit got an unexpected emotional lift when they found seven U.S. prisoners of war. Five from Private Jessica Lynch's outfit, the 507th Maintenance Company, and two Apache helicopter pilots, who'd been shot down three weeks before.

CNN's Bob Franken saw the POWs when they were evacuated to an air base in Iraq.

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The first five who got off were literally running. Only one had his arm in a sling, but he was clearly in good health. Big grins on their faces, running out of jubilation. The other two were hobbling a little bit, but they were clearly people who had this huge weight lifted off their shoulders, so when the POWs came off, and as they drove down this line to go from their helicopter to the plane that would take them to Kuwait, there was this line of applause. It was just -- everybody was on cloud nine.

BUSH: This is a good way to start off the morning, to have been notified that seven of our fellow Americans are going to be home here pretty soon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the troops finally reached Tikrit, it went down with a whimper, not a bang. There was a firefight. But it was short.

CLARK: This was Saddam Hussein's strong hold. And it was supposed to be well guarded, well protected, and fortified. And it had been. But by the time the forces got there after Baghdad had fallen, and after they'd been pounded from the air for days, there wasn't much left of that defense. And it fell pretty quickly. Took a day and a night for the marines to push into the city, and to beat the last of the hold out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The war was virtually over. But for the people of Iraq, it was just the beginning of dealing with the legacy of Saddam Hussein's rule.

BELLINI: There were people saying they are prisoners under the ground here. We hear their voices. They really are down there. They had me convinced.

BELLINI: Do you know for sure there are people down there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes. Maybe thousands.

BELLINI: People who had been tortured, and who were under the ground, put there by Saddam Hussein's secret police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Voices heard (ph) down in water (ph).

BELLINI: Down in the water?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

BELLINI: Who?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. It must be prisoners.

BELLINI: And then after a while it dawned on me that when they were hearing voices, they were really just hearing the echoes of their own voices. The echoes of people at the other wells. And they were feeding off of one another in this burst of enthusiasm and misguided hope that there really were prisoners down below. It was convincing for a bit.

But then it occurred to us that these people are just hearing ghosts. I think there's a lot of ghosts in Iraq's past that these people are going to have to deal with, and reckon with for many years to come.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A war more than a year in the making was all but over in less than a month.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, HISTORIAN: I THINK WHEN ONE LOOKS BACK AT THE WAR IN Iraq, 9/11 is the big date to look at. Everything changed at that point. The entire landscape of our country, and the way that we look at the war had changed. Justice is what we call it. We're going to get justice. Bad guys are going to face their moment, and justice will prevail. Reality is it's revenge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A brutal regime was overthrown. A people liberated from tyranny.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All New Yorkers (ph) were happy. They were happy to the heart that Saddam Hussein had gone. A nightmare, a black cloud shifted away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the fall of Saddam Hussein set off what may be a much larger battle over the future of Iraq.

MCINTYRE: It's the old cliche. Winning the military victory is easy compared to winning the peace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beyond the debate over right and wrong, beyond the weapons of mass destruction, and the ultimate fate of Saddam Hussein, there is the question of what's next? Can peace and democracy flourish in Iraq? And can they spread across the Middle East?

GERGES: Many Arabs and Muslims believe that the United States uses the question of democracy as a stick to punish it's enemies, while shutting it's eyes and ears to violations -- human rights violations by it's local allies.

Was it a military victory? Yes. Who can argue that? Was it a long-term military victory? Did we win our larger objectives in our Middle Eastern policy? It's to early to tell. Let's give it 20 years from now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After Saddam, uncertainty is one of the only certainties in Iraq. And experts say that's likely to be the situation for some time to come.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope the Americans don't leave before they settle everything. Because if they leave now, Iraq will be left in total chaos.

MCINTYRE: And no one at the Pentagon is predicting how long it will take. In the past when they predicted how long the United States might be involved in a country, they have always been wrong.

BUSH: We will stay as long as is necessary to make sure that the Iraq people have a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people. And then we'll come home.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Their worst nightmare? Fundamentalist Islamic Regime. It has a whole lot of oil that says the United States is Satan. They (ph) don't think that's going to happen. But I think that would be their worst nightmare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The framework for the new Iraq is frocked with pitfalls. And the predictions run the gamut.

GERGES: While for many American's, this war was about combating terrorism. For many Arabs and Muslims, this war was about subjecating (ph) Iraq, and the Iraqis, and controlling their resources. What the American invasion did was to unite, not only militant against American Foreign Policy, but even moderates (ph).

BRINKLEY: If the United States can rebuild an infrastructure, help them get a constitution, control their oil reserves for a short time, and then turn them over to the Iraqi people, then I think the word is democracy is the new trend for young people. And look out Syria; look out Iran, your next.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In post war Iraq, patience, persistence, and luck may ultimately be the most powerful weapons in the war to win the peace.

BUSH: The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time. But it is worth every effort.

BRINKLEY: What historians are going to question, is can one impose democracy? And can we get rid of rogues (ph) every time we feel like it without costing the American people 100 or $200 billion to do it, and creating more problem than it solves. And the verdict on Iraq's not out yet.

BUSH: Everywhere that freedom arrives, humanity rejoices. And everywhere that freedom stirs, let tyrants fear.

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