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Arraf: Baghdad on edge over threats

Arraf
CNN Baghdad bureau chief Jane Arraf

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(CNN) -- As violence flared in Baghdad and U.S. forces prepared for the possibility of heightened resistance this weekend, CNN Baghdad bureau chief Jane Arraf spoke with CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien on Friday about the situation.

O'BRIEN: Jane, we heard from the secretary [U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld] that the fact that Saddam Hussein is alive is unhelpful. Do U.S. troops feel that they're any closer to catching Saddam?

ARRAF: Well, Soledad, they seem to feel that they're as tantalizingly close and frustratingly far away as they've ever been -- close in the sense that they still believe he is in Iraq, and more specifically, still in the area around his hometown. But they don't seem to have that information that's timely enough or accurate enough to actually get much closer to him. They are still by all accounts several steps behind.

Now, one of the things they're doing around his hometown -- U.S. soldiers are cordoning off the area of his birth place, Uja. They're putting barbed wire up around there to control people coming in and out. They say it's partly for security purposes and an indication that there's still quite a lot of support for him, not just in his hometown but in other areas as well.

O'BRIEN: Jane, let's also elaborate on these rumors that we've been talking about, circulating about a "day of resistance" that has put U.S. forces on a heightened alert. What are we talking about specifically? Is it known at all?

ARRAF: It is known a little bit and it's certainly got everyone on edge. Now, the U.S. consul here has warned American citizens to be particularly vigilant following these rumors of what they call a day of resistance. And they stem from warnings that have been received apparently at schools, as well as in other places, fliers saying that tomorrow will be a day of resistance and the day after, and in fact a day of hell, with attacks on marketplaces, possibly schools. And implicit in that is attacks on coalition targets.

Now, officials have held a security meeting close to us, including members of the Governing Council. And we asked one member of the council what he thought about that, and he said, well, it's been 35 years of hell for us. We're ready for this, and one more day won't matter. But certainly, it does have a lot of people in this city on edge.


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