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On The Scene

Bill Hemmer: Sandstorm limiting visibility

CNN's Bill Hemmer in Kuwait City
CNN's Bill Hemmer in Kuwait City

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(CNN) -- U.S. troops preparing in the Kuwaiti desert for possible battle with Iraq faced a major sandstorm on Wednesday.

CNN's Bill Hemmer is in Kuwait City, and he discussed the latest developments Wednesday with CNN anchor Leon Harris.

HEMMER: The story of the day so far is the weather. It has been unbelievable for the past seven, eight hours here. A sandstorm has moved in. These winds kick up and blow through the desert.

Visibility is severely limited, perhaps less than half-a-mile.

We expect these conditions to continue well into the night. We are expecting a clearing on Thursday, with diminishing winds.

You can only imagine what's happening with the U.S. military right now, as they gather out in the Kuwaiti desert trying to deal with these conditions.

Let's talk about Kuwait's war footing. We saw for the first time in this conflict the National Guard come out in force. On the streets of Kuwait City we're told about 100 National Guard armored vehicles are patrolling the streets and are patrolling in other major cities as well -- 1,000 National Guard troops along with them.

About two hours ago, the deputy prime minister in Kuwait came on national television offering his assurance to the Kuwaiti people, telling them that [it is] not the same country it was in 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait in August of that year. He says the allied forces -- British, U.S., Australia and others -- are here now to protect us. He says Kuwait does not want war, but in his words, "Iraq has brought this on itself."

Let's talk about the U.S. military buildup right now -- the descriptions we're getting of the convoys that are seen on Highway 80 that runs north right into the Iraqi border -- Humvees, M1-A1 tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles.

One witness says the convoy goes as far as the eye can see. It was a similar scene yesterday afternoon, when we were getting these reports as well.

So, the military buildup, the move toward the northern border with Kuwait and Iraq does continue.


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