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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 May, 2003, 09:35 GMT 10:35 UK
My war: The expectant father

Mukhallad al-Sinwai, a 36-year-old pharmacist from Baghdad, spent the war in Nasiriya where his wife was expecting their third child.

My wife Azhar was heavily pregnant when the war started. I am from Baghdad, but had come down to Nasiriya with my wife to be with her mother.

It is our custom in Iraq for the expectant mother to return to her home town for the birth.

Our baby boy, Mohammed, was born in the middle of the war.

Because of the fighting, we could not get to the maternity hospital. It was too far away and too dangerous. I had prepared for that.

I am a pharmacist so I had brought the medicines that would be needed for a home birth.

The women and my daughters wrapped themselves in blankets to try and protect themselves
Mukhallad al-Sinwai

But I have run out of my own medicine. I am diabetic and ran out of insulin some days ago. I cannot get it so I must be very careful about my diet.

I remember during the last Gulf War, we were in Baghdad at the start when they started bombing, but we were not terrified.

It was when Saddam started making threats to Israel, and shooting scuds at them, that we got really scared.

We thought Israel might hit us with a nuclear attack and so my family escaped to my grandfather's home in Al-Diwanya, which is about 100 miles south of Baghdad. We spent 11 days there.

Then there were the sanctions and the price of everything - food, drugs, medicines - suddenly got very expensive.

There was not a shortage of things for sale, but you had to go to the black market to get some things

American soldier
'Iraq do not feel free with the US army here'

So times had been hard in Iraq before the latest war. I can remember listening to George W Bush on the radio saying America will fight terrorists all over the world and that is when I knew he would make a war with Iraq.

The fighting in Nasiriya went on for many days. It was heavy and the Americans used everything to finish the resistance.

It came close to us. Artillery fire fell two metres from our house and everything broke - the windows, the glasses, and the house shook like an earthquake.

There was also a lot of random shooting, which is how the old woman who lived next door to my mother-in-law was killed; by bullets coming through the window.

There is one room in the house, with no windows, where the women and my daughters ran to when there was trouble. They wrapped themselves in blankets to try and protect themselves.

Getting water

But I stayed in the sitting room. I thought: "God will protect us".

The water stopped seven days after the start of the war. We dug a hole to reach the water pipe and broke it to collect the water.

We did go to the market, but it always had to be a quick trip.

I did not agree with the reason for the war. I don't believe Bush's excuse that we had illegal weapons.

But I am happy to see the end of Saddam Hussein. I am a Shia Muslim, and he did terrible things to the Shias.

But while the Americans and British talk about a "free Iraq" it does not feel free. It will not be until the army have gone.

Now at least we can talk about things openly. Before, if we talked about the regime, it had to be in whispers. Walls have ears, is what we used to say. So, it is a liberation.

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