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Little Known about Iraqi Opposition Group

Aired August 20, 2002 - 09:31   ET

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


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We go straight to Berlin for more on that incident at the Iraqi embassy. Early reports show an Iraqi opposition group has taken over the embassy there. Joining us on the phone right now, CNN News Producer Stephanie Halasz -- good morning. What else have you learned?
STEPHANIE HALASZ, CNN NEWS PRODUCER: Hi, Paula. Good morning. Well, essentially, not much else. All lines are now overrun, those of the police and those of the Iraqi embassy. We've been trying to call them frantically and we have been getting not even a dial tone.

Basically, these early reports, as you know, are that an organization called the Democratic Iraqi Opposition of Germany has occupied the Iraqi embassy in Berlin. Now, what we know is, of course, this is what Gaven Morris reported earlier that this embassy in a leafy, western suburb of Berlin where most of the embassies are. We're driving there just at the moment, and really, that is pretty much what we know. There have been -- the police, in initial reports, told us that there was an incident, but they could not confirm anything else -- Paula.

ZAHN: Now, Stephanie, there is also some confusion about early reports suggesting some hostages have been taken. Can you either confirm that, or shed some light on those early reports?

HALASZ: Unfortunately, I cannot report that there have hostages been taken. A statement faxed to a news agency by this Democratic Iraqi Opposition of Germany had said that, this -- in their own words, this organization had taken the first step for the liberation of Iraq, and they would do so in a peaceful and timely manner. This is the words they used in this statement, and they also used that the Iraqi people have the will for freedom, and they want to put this into action. So, certainly, we unfortunately cannot confirm any reports of hostages taken, but we will as soon as we're there.

ZAHN: And I know, Stephanie, that this group has also reported that this will be a so-called "peaceful and temporary" action to push for the ouster of Saddam Hussein. I know that Gaven reported in his last live report, that not a whole lot is known about this opposition group. Do we have any idea at this hour how many people even make it up?

HALASZ: No, we don't. I must admit I have never heard of this opposition group, it could just be a splinter group. The Iraqi opposition in Germany is not very large. There aren't even a lot of Iraqis living in Germany. So, this could just be a small splinter group, or it could be something that -- it could be an organization that into folding into a larger organization -- Paula.

ZAHN: All right. Stephanie Halasz. We will let you get to the embassy.

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