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Gary Strieker: Thousands of bombs on board

CNN's Gary Strieker
CNN's Gary Strieker

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ABOARD THE USS ROOSEVELT (CNN) -- Dozens of U.S. F-14 Tomcats and F-18 Hornet war planes launched attacks against targets in Iraq from aircraft carriers, the USS Harry S. Truman, and the USS Theodore Roosevelt. The strikes were the first the crew of the Roosevelt has launched in the campaign against Iraq.

CNN's Gary Strieker is aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt and he spoke to CNN anchor Paula Zahn.

STRIEKER: The information that we have is that those air attacks from the two carriers here in the eastern Mediterranean will continue. They are taking place on a 24-hour basis.

The Truman is launching air attacks during the day and the Roosevelt ship that I'm on is launching during the night. The attack that took place earlier today was a six-hour mission. The pilots returned, after six hours everybody returned safely, the planes returned safely.

We had a briefing with pilots afterwards and they told us that the first attack was a mission targeted at two specific targets -- one, an AM radio station in central Iraq, and two, a presidential palace compound west of Baghdad, two presidential palaces in a compound called the Al-Ramadi complex. Both pilots say that their aircraft carried precision-guided bombs which they say performed as advertised. They say both targets were destroyed.

ZAHN: Can you tell us more about why they would be targeting this AM radio station?

STRIEKER: The pilots had no information on that. It is likely a broadcast facility run by the government. Could be an broadcast station that is used for military purposes as well, they didn't know anything about that. They did know, however, that the palace complex they attacked had two individual palaces in there, they suspected that they were used for military purposes.

What surprised the pilots, they told us, was that they met absolutely no resistance at all, and that there was no anti-aircraft fire from the ground, no aircraft that flew up to try to intercept them, and that really surprised them considering the nature of the targets.

ZAHN: You talked about these pilots being on six-hour missions and both these ships operating on a 24-hour basis. Have you been given any indication how many days it can go on like this?

STRIEKER: We have been down into the magazine of this aircraft carrier and I can tell you that there are thousands of bombs down there, and the command on this ship says they can continue this activity indefinitely and they are prepared to do so.


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