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Last Updated:  Saturday, 22 March, 2003, 15:02 GMT
Reporters' Log: At war in Iraq
The BBC's unrivalled team of correspondents is bringing you news from the Gulf and reaction from around the world. On this page BBC News Online logs their impressions and personal experiences as they watch events unfold.

Most recent postings are at the top.

Thursday, 20 March

Doha, Qatar:: Peter Hunt :: 2345GMT

Royal Marines are now in the vanguard of the attack from the sea, which appears to be focused on capturing the southern city of Basra.

Northern Kuwait :: Adam Mynott :: 2237GMT

A huge artillery barrage has been launched by US forces on the Al Faw peninsula in southern Iraq. The sound of incessant gun fire rumbled across the desert for the last 25 minutes.

It is not clear what the target is but there are several important oil facilities on the peninsula.

EU summit, Brussels :: Andrew Marr :: 2235GMT

Frankly the European Summit in Brussels could not have been worse. The French struck out all sorts of aspects that the British hoped to agree including some fairly bland stuff about resolution 1441.

The French are not prepared to talk about the reconstruction of Iraq at all at the moment. People who have been at these summits and sat inside the room for many years say they cannot remember one quite as bad as this.

Tony Blair and President Chirac have at least briefly shaken hands but they spent most of the time on the opposite sides of a very large room and the way they are regarding one another at the moment, it's probably a good thing.

Among the interesting aspects of Tony Blair's address to the country was his grappling with the central political problems about this war, that most people in Britain find it hard to understand why Iraq is a threat to them.

Mr Blair will have taken a lot of heart, not only that he did in the end get that Commons majority but also because opinion polls appear to be moving his way.

Northern Kuwait :: Ben Brown:: 2234GMT

There is a constant rumble of aircraft now heading north from Kuwait.

There has been another alarm here about incoming missiles. We had to take cover a few minutes ago and have just been given the all clear.

We know now that the Royal horse artillery have crossed over the border into Iraq in the last few minutes.

Kuwait City :: Ryan Dilley :: 2212GMT

There can be few things as sickening as being woken from sleep by the banshee wail of a siren threatening an incoming missile. The air raid warnings which come long after dark, seem all the more menacing. The all clear comes only after anxious minutes of imagined explosions.

Iraq - Kuwaiti border :: David Willis :: 2217GMT

I'm with a massive convoy of US marines very close to Iraq border This is a massive operation, this convoy is hoping to cross the border imminently.

Earlier this evening the artillery men here fired at least 500 rounds, the bombardment went on for a couple of hours and it has started again in the last couple of minutes.

There are reports of a fire fight up ahead but these men are hoping to cross the border very soon indeed.

Iraq - Kuwaiti border :: Gavin Hewitt :: 2212GMT

I'm with the US 3rd Infantry Division and we are now on the Iraq border. You can see orange glows in the sky now from here on the front line. 20 helicopters, with lights out, have begun a mission in Iraq. There has been no determined Iraqi response as yet to this huge barrage.

Kuwait City :: Ryan Dilley :: 2125GMT

Constantly straining to hear the air raid sirens and jump at every suspicious noise, especially the wind howling around our building, on several occasions have even mistaken tv coverage of warning sirens in Baghdad for an attack on us here.

Just past midnight the alarm for a possible Iraqi attack woke me and my colleagues up. Sirens are very distant adding to our fears that we might sleep through them later in the night.

We dressed gas masks first and trooped down the five flights to the basement shelter. Another false alarm, something we expect to be repeated throughout the night.

Washington :: Nick Bryant :: 2122GMT

The White House is trying hard to show that things are calm. They've put a lot of effort into making the President's day seem effortless.

It was significant that after President Bush spoke about Donald Rumsfeld's briefing and Colin Powell's briefing he started talking about health care and education.

It's kind of business as usual at the White House but also a very carefully and politically calibrated statement.

George W Bush is terrified that he might follow his father who won a Gulf War in 1991 only to lose a presidential election in 1992.

Was last night's attack successful? We haven't got an answer yet. The Pentagon's saying damage assessment is still under way.

But senior Pentagon officials briefing on condition of anonymity that they're relatively confident right now that they have "disconnected Saddam Hussein from his military leadership".

Quite what that means they won't say.

EU summit, Brussels :: Andrew Marr :: 2055GMT

It has got off to a very bad start here indeed for the Prime Minister Mr Blair.

The atmosphere has been described as "niggily". There are attempts to agree a statement from the European leaders but this has not been finalised yet. The French would not agree to a statement prepared which said that the EU regretted that the Iraqi authorities had not taken the chance to disarm.

Relations with UK and France are like a marital dispute where the parties know they will have to talk and settle down together eventually but for now that is not happening. The meeting here has broken up and they have all gone off for a meal.

Doha, Qatar :: Nicholas Witchell :: 2037GMT

Reports now that the Royal Marines have made an amphibious landing on the Al-Faw peninsula. It is believe they have established the beach head, and are now moving inland, to the west, without much resistance.

British land forces are now engaged in this war.

Kuwaiti - Iraqi border :: Gavin Hewitt :: 2037GMT

We are paused here at the moment but within the last half hour off to our right there was a sound, like rolling thunder, it was missiles being launched into Iraq.

This salvo went on for at least twenty minutes, I counted at least 20 missiles being launched.

We have had no incoming or return fire from the Iraqi's

We did hear some Arabic voices coming through the night, cheering and shouting, some suggestion it might be Iraqis surrendering but we have not been allowed to go and see, we have to stay with the column.

It's very quiet here now - the only sound is of me talking. All lights are extinguished, it is dark. As I'm talking now I hear a fantastic rumble again, the attacks are starting again.

I can hear black hawk helicopters with no lights on are overhead heading into Iraq. The sounds of missiles are increasing.

A large number of helicopters are now heading overhead into Iraq.

The initial stages of the invasion of Iraq are taking place right now.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 2021GMT

The bombing has been a step change from this morning when it seemed to be a pinprick, a surgical strike aimed just at decapitating the leadership, as the Americans described.

We've seen a lot of explosions over the last couple of hours. This is taking the battle right to the heart of Baghdad.

I don't believe we are yet at 'shock and awe'. But this is certainly a change from this morning which we believe only amounted to one strike in Baghdad itself.

We have now seen something different.

Northern Kuwait :: Hilary Andersson :: 1922GMT

We've just heard another plane go overhead - there's a lot of activity on the border. We've seen and heard a lot of flashes on the horizon.

We now know that ten missiles were fired from Iraq earlier today - one landing within a kilometre of the British divisional area where we are.

We do not know how many of these missiles were Scuds - some of them were smaller missiles.

Northern Kuwait :: Tim Franks :: 1906GMT

A couple of hours ago I started hearing here in the northern Kuwaiti desert the thump of heavy artillery over the horizon.

We have just been told by a British army spokesman in the last few minutes that British artillery has been used for the first time to hit Iraqi positions.

We now know that British forces have engaged for the first time in this war.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 1807GMT

The air raid sirens went off about 10 minutes ago and quite a barrage of anti-aircraft fire has just gone up into the sky.

We can just see it arcing into the sky above Baghdad. I assume this means that aircraft or missiles are now over Baghdad and the bombardment is about to begin.

There was a sustained burst of anti-aircraft fire. There are flashes in the sky which look like outgoing fire trying to hit the bombers.

It's a futile effort. The bombers are flying too high.

Kuwait :: Gavin Hewitt :: 1710GMT

Five minutes ago the most fantastic onslaught began on southern Kuwait.

Multiple rocket launchers, howitzers. The night sky has been lit up with flashes ahead of me. It's incessant.

This is the 'shock and awe' that has been talked about in recent weeks. We are in a column with the third infantry. We have stopped for a few seconds.

A lot of the troops are up on the tanks and fighting vehicles and looking down into southern Iraq at this display, a display of awesome power.

Kuwait :: Gavin Hewitt :: 1643GMT

It was late afternoon, close to the Iraqi border when we began to hear some explosions taking place inside southern Iraq.

Then the sound of aircraft increased - American aircraft - and we actually saw an American aircraft firing a missile shortly after a very loud explosion was heard coming from inside southern Iraq.

Subsequent to that again we've seen flashes in the night sky that indicate some activity is still going on inside southern Iraq.

And with the American forces on the border, following the missile attack on Kuwait earlier, all the troops here are in chemical suits and will be until the threat of chemical weapons has passed, sometime over, hopefully, the next few days.

Amman :: Martin Asser :: 1635GMT

Calls to prayer across Jordanian capital mark sunset on what is being called Day One of America's War on Iraq. But apart from a couple of disturbances, the city has been going about its business pretty much as usual today.

Most people are treating the first blows in the war as just a seamless continuation of what they view as Washington's unjust policy towards the region and in the wider world.

It's difficult to find anyone in this city who supports America in its bid to depose Saddam Hussein by force or who says they feel threatened by the Iraqi leader.

But despite their obvious anger and frustration, everyone I have met remains calm and courteous with foreigners. This comes after the UK Foreign Office repeated its warning that Britons here should leave.

Kuwait City:: Ryan Dilley :: 1606GMT

As dusk falls, we have heard the fourth siren of the day crying across the city.

We are rushing to a new shelter, a bleak concrete room far underground.

The mood has got darker - few people here have masks, and the phones are down.

Northern Iraq :: Stuart Hughes :: 1550GMT

We've taken up position in Cham Chamal, the end of the road in Kurdish administered Northern Iraq.

The front line with Baghdad-controlled territory is just a stones throw away.

We've been taken in by Akram, whose two-room house is now occupied by two journalists, a cameraman, a driver and a translator.

Like most people living in Cham Chamal, Akram's wife has sought safety in a village away from the front line.

Akram has stayed behind to guard his possessions and as night falls he is cooking us all potato soup and rice on a kerosene stove.

Through the binoculars I can see Iraqi government troops on the hills ahead.

They let off the occasional burst of gunfire beyond them lies Kirkuk - controlled by Saddam Hussein for the moment at least.

Washington:: Rob Watson :: 1548GMT

In his first briefing since the start of hostilities President's spokesman Ari Fleischer said the White House had reached no conclusion about who was on the tape or when it was made.

Asked how the President believed the campaign was going so far, Mr Fleischer said the President was not going to do a play-by-play commentary on the progress of the war.

He insisted however the President's confidence was high in the US military and the disarmament of Iraq.

Responding to criticism of the conflict by President Putin and other world leaders, Mr Fleischer said the President understood their concerns but would not be deterred.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 1530GMT

Night is about to fall here and people are wondering just what the second phase of this war is going to mean.

There is a recognition now that this was a limited missile strike and that the full extent of what is called outside Iraq 'shock and awe' may shortly be visited on the Iraqi people.

On street corners almost everywhere you do see defensive position manned by middle-aged and older men, wearing an assortment of uniforms, carrying an assortment of weapons, using Kalashnikovs and they seemed quite happy, waving the victory sign, giving us broad smiles and saying that they supported their president.

Northern Iraq :: Jim Muir :: 1525GMT

Only twenty-four hours ago the main road out of Kirkuk to the Kurdish city of Sulaymanieh saw several hundred people crossing the confrontation line to get away from Kirkuk and the bombardment that everybody expects.

But now the road is deserted. Kurdish Peshmurga guerrillas manning the last checkpoint on the Kurdish side, said that Iraqi troops holding hilltop positions immediately to the west had blocked the road and were preventing anybody getting through in either direction.

They are also reported to have laid mines on the road, and early in the day they'd been shooting at vehicles moving on the Kurdish side.

The Kurdish guerrillas along the frontline don't seem to have been reinforced. Their political leaders say there's no plan for them to advance on Kirkuk or Mosul after the expected American blitz begins.

Jerusalem :: Richard Miron :: 1335GMT

Jerusalem is cold and rainy but life continues almost as normal here, with a couple of notable differences.

The shops are open and while people are out - the streets seem quieter. Many Israelis are carrying brown cardboard boxes containing their gas masks kit with them.

This follows orders by the Army's Home Command for people to be ready in case of Iraqi missile attack.

Most here though reckon that the chances of that are very low and are more nervous about the possibility of a Palestinian suicide bomb attack.

One TV channel has been set aside for the military to broadcast instructions and on-going information about what to do in case of an Iraqi strike. The public mood here is nervous but tinged with hope that this war will pass the country by

Rome :: David Willey :: 1315GMT

In towns and cities all over Italy, students were out on the streets in their thousands, holding peace flags and carrying anti-war banners.

Police in riot gear turned a student march away from the heavily-guarded American embassy in Rome.

More students staged a sit-in outside the Nato headquarters in Naples. Eggs were thrown at the British consulate in Venice and police fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators.

The Vatican later issued a statement expressing deep pain at the outbreak of war, criticising both the United States and Iraq.

Amman, Jordan :: Hugh Sykes :: 1310GMT

An anti-war demonstration by about 300 members of the Jordanian Bar Association - most of them smartly dressed lawyers wearing long camel-hair coats - has been attacked by riot police.

At least four of these lawyers were injured. I saw three of them in the hospital and though the injuries are not serious and they are outpatients, one man had clearly been hit over the legs by a police truncheon, both knees bruised and bloody.

Kuwait City :: Ryan Dilley :: 1220GMT

Few people - even policemen - bothered to put on their gas masks during the air raids we've had here this morning.

It was only when Kuwaitis saw foreign journalists (who are mostly well versed in the dangers of a chemical attack) putting on their respirators that they too followed suit.

After two trips deep into my hotel's basement, reports are emerging that an Iraqi Scud attack may have been launched against a target a few dozen miles to the north. Yet the streets and pavements here are again busy.

Baghdad :: Rageh Omaar :: 1207GMT

When the air raid siren all clear sounded about three-and-a-half hours ago, there was nobody on the streets here at all.

Now I have driven across the city and slowly a few more people are coming out in their cars. But still the vast majority are staying in their homes.

I think people were surprised at the limited nature of the air strikes. Deep in their hearts people must feel this is simply the calm before the storm.

Northern Kuwait :: Tim Franks :: 1142GMT

We've heard several crumpled bangs over the last few hours.

On three occasions soldiers with whom we are encamped have sounded the alarm to don gas masks, jump in a bunker and put on the full protective suits, boots and gloves.

As promised, the British army is taking any suspected artillery bombardment from the Iraqi side as potentially carrying chemical or biological agents.

It's hot, thirsty and uncomfortable wearing this gear but at the moment these are just precautionary moves.

Cairo :: Mark Doyle :: 1105GMT

Thousands of anti-war demonstrators have gathered in central Cairo to express Arab anger at the attack on Iraq.

The American embassy is a few blocks from the roundabout where the demonstrators have gathered, but thousands of riot police have surrounded the mission.

Police in black uniforms are standing four-deep, brandishing riot shields and batons.

Every now and then the crowd tests the lines and scuffles break out.

There have been a number of injuries.

The people here don't necessarily support Saddam Hussein - many say he's an evil dictator - but much of Arab opinion is outraged that the American-led coalition is attacking an Arab country while in the Arab view Israel gets away with the illegal occupation of Palestine and receives US support.

Kuwait City :: Ryan Dilley :: 1105GMT

Just miles from the Iraqi border, Kuwait city has had its first air raid warnings of the war.

"This is it, this is the alarm," says a Kuwaiti policeman.

For a moment people - who were seconds ago carrying out their daily chores - are rooted to the spot.

Locals seem unwilling to believe a chemical attack may have been launched on them, but shouts from the police officer rouse them: "Into the shelter!"

The closest haven is in the basement of a plush hotel.

The stairs to its deep basement are soon clogged with evacuees from street level.

Sweating and out of breath after their dash downstairs, friends and colleagues try to seek each other out in the sea of rubber masks.

Conversations are muffled, usually keeping to the vital questions, "Are you okay" and "Do you know what the all clear sounds like."

After only minutes, an official declares the alert at an end. As people leave, gas masks only tentatively removed, the hotel staff thank each person for their co-operation.

Baghdad:: Rageh Omaar :: 1100GMT

There is still electricity in the city, there's not a total power cut or anything like that.

The vast majority of Iraqis are seeking shelter in their homes. They've stocked up with whatever supplies they've been able to get in the markets in previous days.

As for the security presence on the streets of Baghdad, there are of course still the sandbag positions with military and police and security officials but that's about the limit of it.

Certainly in the heart of Baghdad there are still no massive checkpoints with heavy guns or tanks or anything like that.

Northern Kuwait :: Andrew North :: 1030GMT

There's just been a Scud alert at this US marine camp in Northern Kuwait.

Sirens went off and marines all over the camp had to run for shelter, some having to take cover under trucks.

Soon afterwards they were ordered to put on their gas masks as a precaution.

It now appears that the Scud alert was a false alarm but there was a loud explosion heard in the near distance at the time of the alert.

Preparations are under way at this camp for an invasion of Iraq. The marines at this camp are likely to take an important role in any front-line fighting in southern Iraq.

Northern Kuwait :: Adam Mynott :: 1023GMT

There has been intermittent artillery fire in northern Kuwait, presumably across the Iraq/Kuwait border.

My only evidence for that is the sound of artillery and also machinegun fire.

This has been happening intermittently for the past two hours. The US marines that I am with have been into the bunkers with their MBC gear on twice now after gas alerts.

USS Mobil Bay, the Gulf :: Brian Barron :: 0940GMT

There is a mood of some nervousness here, not so much apprehension but the expectation of war having started.

As far as the sailors I've talked to are concerned, this is a mission that needs to be done, they are keen to take out Saddam, they are ready with all these missiles, and they believe, with their fingers firmly crossed that this is liable to be a pretty quick war.

That said of course, we're in the Gulf and Iraq although not far away, is on shore and these sailors aren't going to see any direct action themselves.

This is a very computerised war as far as they are concerned, they will be pressing the button and sending those extremely accurate deadly missiles to Baghdad and elsewhere when the order comes.

Damascus :: Kim Ghattas :: 0930GMT

It has been incredibly silent here in Syria, there has been no reaction yet from the government or ordinary Syrians.

Despite the fact we were approaching the end of the ultimatum yesterday evening, there was no-one on the streets demonstrating and I think that's very surprising in a capital like Damascus where there has been a lot of opposition to this war.

Northern Kuwaiti desert :: Hilary Andersson :: 0855GMT

We have all been told to put our gas masks on, we are on a very high state of alert.

There was a warning that perhaps some kind of chemical or biological weapon had been launched and the alert happened right after we heard a couple of explosions off in the distance.

There have been no casualties here but this a division-wide order so thousands of British troops have just had to put their suits and gas masks on.

There was an unconfirmed report that perhaps this was a proxy bomb but really nobody knows what is going on, and therefore we're taking every precaution.

Kuwait city :: Ryan Dilley :: 0850GMT

The vicious sandstorms which engulfed Kuwait yesterday have abated. Some of the chokingly fine dust whipped up from the desert still hangs in the air, but gone are the atrocious conditions which would have made an invasion so much more difficult.

Though they have long expected a war, Kuwaitis seem dazed by the conflict's actual start. Locals, some carrying gym bags containing gas masks, are desperate for news from the front - just a short drive north along the highway to Basra.

One shop has tuned all the TVs in the window to every available news channel, attracting a crowd of passers-by worried by reports that the soldiers in the desert have donned their gas masks.

People are jittery, but the streets remain busy - traffic has even increased with all the extra police patrols. Saddam Hussein is widely despised here for the conduct of his troops in 1990, but Kuwaitis fear the deaths of their innocent neighbours north of the border.

Northern Iraq :: John Simpson :: 0710GMT

Standing near the Kurdish-Iraq front I can see Iraq soldiers in their lookout. Through the camera lens I can see them having breakfast and drinking tea. They are calm and relaxed.

The talk is of Saddam Hussein's speech on TV. I know there are questions being asked about doubles and if it was the real Saddam.

I think it was him, the genuine Iraqi president. Saddam would never allow a body double to make a speech and certainly not this speech. It is after all one of the speeches of his life and possibly his last.

For now we wait to see what develops, all is calm at the moment.

Aircraft carrier Ark Royal :: Matthew Price :: 0705GMT

There's certainly a different atmosphere on board Ark Royal today, it is unusually quiet and focused. For the first time since setting sail two months ago, no alcohol was served on board last night.

People who can, who are not on shift are getting plenty of rest. A senior commander told me today said he'd be trying to get some rest and sleep this afternoon.

But as far as the crew on board and the Royal Marines on board are concerned, we're now in the final hours possibly before military action on Iraq.

Northern Kuwaiti desert :: Hilary Andersson :: 0649GMT

There have been some unconfirmed reports of artillery noises around this area but we have not heard that and the military spokesmen here cannot confirm those reports.

It is possible that Special Forces are operating but if there is any of that kind of activity, it will have to remain unconfirmed.

The military officials at this base say they were surprised themselves that these attacks have happened already.

It certainly appears to be the case that this is not the shock and awe gigantic aerial assault on Baghdad that everyone is expecting.

What people here are expecting is that that attack will happen some time fairly soon and that perhaps 24 hours or even more after that the orders for the ground war will be given.

The key thing from the military perspective is to maintain what they call tactical surprise so whatever they tell us is going to happen may not be reality.

What we're going to have to do is stand here and wait until we hear the planes overhead and the firing starting.

British Army HQ, Kuwaiti desert :: Tim Franks :: 0535GMT

It dawned quiet and clear here. There were no planes screaming overhead and no orders, as far as we know, for the troops to move forward towards the border.

Some troops are not yet in their chemical protection suits which may indicate that a move forward is not imminent just yet.

We were woken out of our tents as dawn broke by a senior British army officer telling us to turn on our radios. He said war had started in Baghdad. But here in northern Kuwait it is all quiet and the war here is yet to start

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 0456GMT

The air raid sirens have been wailing again and the sound of aircraft fire is ringing out across the Iraqi capital.

People are very jumpy here. We now know the city of Baghdad was not the main thrust of the air attack. The focus is being described as a "target of opportunity", where five senior members of the Iraqi government were gathered. It is believed that Saddam Hussein was amongst them.

In the last few minutes it appears the telephone system has gone down here.

Downing St, London :: Shaun Ley :: 0450GMT

It is all quiet in Downing St. The Prime Minister Tony Blair was woken with details of the planned attack. Many people here had gone home overnight not expecting anything to happen overnight.

The Prime Minister plans to fly to Brussels later today for a European Council meeting. That will be interesting when Mr Blair meets with the French, who have opposed this war.

It is expected he will make a statement at some stage later this morning. So far in Downing St there is little activity and we are still waiting for the real drama to unfold here.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 0442GMT

It is quiet now in Baghdad, with not much bombing going on at the moment. I am looking at several of the Presidential palaces which are clearly still intact and weren't targeted. The Iraqi flag is still flying there.

The famous monument with the cross hands, which has come to symbolise Baghdad, is also still standing.

On Iraqi radio patriotic music is being played and messages of adulation to Saddam Hussein are being relayed. There are also statements that Iraq and all Muslim people are entering a jihad against America.

The residents remain in their bunkers, furiously relaying information by telephone to one another. Rumours abound about what is happening in the city.

The power is still on, the bridges are undamaged and the telephone network is also operational.

Amman :: Roger Hearing :: 0355GMT

It is a blustery morning in Amman as people start to make their way to work. There is both resignation and dread here about what may or may not happen to there neighbours in Iraq. But equally there is relief amongst Jordanians that something is happening.

Baghdad :: Rageh Omar :: 0343GMT

There have been a few more barrages of anti-aircraft fire. It is not in the centre of the city, but somewhere on the outskirts of Baghdad. It comes in sporadic short waves, followed by periods of silence. Often a lull of 10 or 15 minutes.

There are hardly any pedestrians out on the streets, there are some cars starting to move about and the odd motorbike whizzing past. It is really quite light here now on a hazy morning in Baghdad.

There is fear here but also the hope that it will all be over quickly.

Washington D.C. :: Justin Webb :: 0317GMT

President Bush has confirmed that the US is at war with Iraq. He spoke live from the Oval Office. He said that American and other forces were in the early stages of military action.

But Mr Bush said he had a warning too, for those in America who might consider this war easy to win, it could, he said, be longer and more difficult than some predict.

Doha, Qatar :: Paul Adams :: 0307GMT

Sources are indicating an attack on a "location of opportunity" near Baghdad. They say that the have intelligence that the Iraqi leadership are at this venue.

Baghdad :: Rageh Omar :: 0303GMT

It is full light in Baghdad, morning has broken with the sound of explosions. There is still power in the city, the street lights remain on. I can see a few muzzled flashes in the distance.

I can see no signs of explosions on the ground but we can certainly hear them. I can see one large plume of black smoke, I'm not sure what it hit.

The city has been completely empty and quiet through the night and an attack at dawn wasn't expected.

Baghdad :: Rageh Omar :: 0240GMT

There are some heavy explosions being heard in the city. Air raid sirens are being heard too. The sounds of war.

Baghdad :: Rageh Omar :: 0115GMT

Baghdad is a completely quiet city. Standing in my hotel room looking out across the skyline and the streets below, I have seen only one car driving at high speed in the last hour. All the streets are deserted.

People have gone to their homes and have stayed there. Last night just after dusk I was walking around and all the shops were shuttered up and people were trying to get home. The streets are empty

People have made their preparations, the market has been full in recent days of people buying what they could, gas lamps, masking tape, dried foods. Now that the deadline has run out people are at home and are likely to stay at home.

I would still describe it as an open city, you would imagine Baghdad would be braced for war in a military sense. You would imagine tanks on the streets, checkpoints, troops on the junctions of main roads, but they are not there. You do find a few sandbag positions with a couple of soldiers there, but that's it.

I went out to the edge of Baghdad to one of the main highways to the north and there was nothing there really, it was an eerie feeling. To the naked eye driving around here, there is no sense of this being a militarised city.

Northern Iraq :: John Simpson :: 0115GMT

We are standing here in a cold northern Iraq. It is an absolutely horrible morning. There is a moon which comes out from time to time when the rain stops and the clouds part. The city of Mosul which is close to us here looks like it will be at peace for the next few hours at least.

The conditions could scarcely be more different from southern Iraq, rain here and sandstorms in the more desert areas of the country.

There are not many hours of darkness left. I can here the cock starting to crow here, it feels like dawn is imminent if an attack isn't.

The movements of those reporting from Baghdad are restricted and their reports are monitored by the Iraqi authorities.



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