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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 8 April, 2003, 21:33 GMT 22:33 UK
Reporters' Log: War in Iraq
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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.

Tuesday, 8 April

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 2125GMT

There's been more heavy bombing of the city in the last half hour or so. I couldn't see where it was, but I could see flashes of light illuminating the whole horizon. And then, several seconds afterwards, indicating this was at some distance, we heard the rumbling, and indeed some vibration.

Very heavy bombs have been dropped in Baghdad again. Perhaps the two thousand pound bombs, the "bunker busters", which were used last night in an attempted, and now we believe, failed assassination attempt on President Saddam Hussein.

Basra :: Kylie Morris :: 2112GMT

You can still see the looters on the street. There's been a fairly thorough cleanout of any building that people have been able to get into.

There's a crowd of men gathered outside this building. They're carrying plastic chairs, ceiling fans. Some of them have rather large sticks in their hands. Parts of the courtyard are on fire. There are filing cabinets, there are lounge chairs, a lot of frenetic activity. And this building was once Basra's police station.

New York :: Paul Moss :: 2051GMT

According to the polling organisation the Kew Research Centre, pro-UN sentiment still dominates across this country. And Kew argues that whatever the ideological leanings of George Bush and his advisers, the President faces a public with rather more internationalist sentiments than appearance might suggest.

East of Baghdad :: David Willis :: 2009GMT

On the way here we came under attack from snipers, and three Marines were injured in that. After that, the Marines attacked a couple of Iraqi tanks after we crossed the River Tigris in their amphibious assault vehicle.

But I have to say generally the reception has been cordial. A lot of smiling, waving people, some of whom have come forward to warn the Marines of the whereabouts of various militia men and Republican Guard.

United Nations, New York :: Greg Barrow :: 1914GMT

There's no doubt that there is an air of anxiety at United Nations' headquarters in New York about what role the UN will play in a post-conflict era in Iraq. The suggestion by President Bush that the United Nations has a vital role to play in Iraq has done little to comfort many here who fear that the UN may be marginalised once the guns fall silent.

Unfortunately the Security Council is still deeply divided over Iraq. With no clear signal on how to move forward, Kofi Annan may find himself paralysed.

RAF Safwan, southern Iraq :: Peter Dobbie :: 1850GMT

We're just seeing two RAF Pumas taking off. We understand that they're heading north, into the northern area of that part of Iraq that British forces control. We also understand that they're going to collect two Iraqi civilians who've been injured in the fighting today.

We have three hundred personnel here, flying these helicopters. They head north, they pick up injured service personnel or injured civilians, and then they take them to the nearest point of lasting medical care and treatment.

Jerusalem :: Barbara Plett :: 1820GMT

It's true the Iraqi president gives money to Palestinian suicide bombers. But for people here the overwhelming identification is with Iraq as an Arab nation under attack. For example, the antiwar protests are led by Hamas, even though it has little time for Saddam Hussein's secularist regime.

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 1808GMT

The Americans have pushed out a bit from their enclave in the city centre. They now control a bit more territory. They haven't actually come over to the eastern side of the Tigris, where we are, where most of the city is, and where most of the people live.

Paris :: Emma Jane Kirby :: 1725GMT

Mr Chirac has said the United Nations must play the central role in rebuilding Iraq. His government is insisting that the UN is the only legitimate body which could secure peace in the region and return it to prosperity.

But Mr Chirac also has his own national agenda to protect. France has major commercial interests at stake and it's anxious to protect them once the fighting ends. The French Government's greatest fear is that Washington will monopolise lucrative reconstruction contracts, and will deliberately exclude France as a punishment for failing to support them in the war.

East of Baghdad :: David Willis :: 1705GMT

We're close enough to the centre of Baghdad to hear the explosions there. The Marines that I'm travelling with have now reached a place called Saddam City, a sprawling conurbation east of downtown Baghdad.

The Marines received information that about five hundred Republican Guards were making their way here. They've now set up what they call a blocking position here in the north east of the city to head off that advance.

Basra :: Caroline Wyatt :: 1620GMT

We saw an awful lot of looting today. As dusk began to fall most people went back into their homes, but particularly this morning we kept seeing donkeys laden with goods.

The sheer amount of things that are being stripped from the buildings is incredible. These are mostly the people who have nothing who are taking the chance to go into the buildings and take whatever they can.

It's a very difficult thing trying to get control of. British troops don't want to anger the civilian population so for the time-being they aren't going to intervene but over the coming days they are going to try to work with the remains of the local police force and local tribal leaders to try to set up some kind of interim administration.

CentCom, Doha :: Jon Brain :: 1555GMT

This has been another day of significant progress for the US forces in and around Baghdad. They now appear to have the city in a vice-like grip.

Troops from the 3rd Infantry are reported to be moving into the city from the north, while the Marines continue their push from the south east.

BBC Monitoring, Caversham :: John Andrew :: 1532GMT

We've just heard from Abu Dhabi TV that their offices in Baghdad are surrounded by American tanks and they can't get out. So there are twenty-five staff in there, along with four members of Al-Jazeera.

Iraqis on the whole will be relying on their short wave radio sets. They'll be picking up the BBC Arabic service of course. They wont be picking up their own service, that's off the air in most parts. And of course, they're being bombarded with dozens of different stations from foreign countries and opposition groups. And of course from the Americans, with their psy-ops broadcasts, telling them to give up the struggle and that liberation is coming soon.

Basra :: Caroline Wyatt :: 1450GMT

There seems to be an orgy of looting going on. We saw someone looting a fire engine yesterday, which is rather a large thing to get away with. And on the way to the outskirts tonight, donkeys absolutely overloaded with furniture.

In one case we did see the British Army intervening when a crowd had started stoning another crowd of looters, trying to stop them taking furniture from a building.

The Palestine Hotel, Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 1410GMT

We were on air on the World Service. There was a huge bang, and you could hear bits of the hotel raining down on the little plywood shack we've built on the roof just below. I must admit I didn't have time to feel scared as it was all over so quickly, but it has changed the way we report. In cautious BBC fashion we haven't gone out today. We've relied on locals going out and around, spotting for us.

Not many of the western journalists in the Palestine Hotel have gone out today. It seems perhaps perverse to stay in the building that's been attacked, but there's the theory that lightning doesn't strike twice.

Sydney :: Michael Peschardt :: 1330GMT

HMAS Sydney is heading for the Gulf to relieve two Australian warships who've been stationed there for several months. The Prime Minister has staked his political future on supporting the war, and was there to see her off.

But as the Sydney headed out of it's home harbour, it soon became clear this was going to be no routine departure.

Anti-war protestors from Greenpeace in small boats attempted to head the frigate off.

It may have been dramatic, but opinion polls suggest the public here is unimpressed. Support for the war appears to be growing.

Baghdad :: Rageh Omaar :: 1315GMT

Colleagues have been lost unnecessarily, as the Reuters Editor-in-Chief has said from London.

There are eighteen people, quite a lot of them civilians, who have just used the opportunity of a bunker underneath the Al-Jazeera office to take shelter there. No clarity as to their fate, and no opportunity to get to them to find out.

It's been a very, very upsetting incident for all the journalists here. A time to take stock of the dangers of reporting this war. And hope that the targeting of journalists by whoever, ceases.

Umm Qasr :: Jennifer Glass :: 1305GMT

Former American General Buff Walters has a big job in southern Iraq. He and his team must fill the gap the government left behind. As his convoy of a dozen new American vehicles made it's way to it's headquarters, children ran alongside begging for water or cigarettes. Some children just shouted "give, give".

Walters says that's what his team will work to do-give the people schools, jobs, running water and healthcare. Umm Qasr needs all of those things.

BBC Monitoring Service, Caversham :: John Andrew :: 1249GMT

Al-Jazeera say their correspondent died in an attack by two missiles on its offices in Baghdad.

The head of the channel's Moscow bureau says it was clearly a "deliberate crime and an act of fascism". Clearly motions are running very high over this.

Al-Jazeera is a controversial channel. It is the one that upset the British and Americans earlier in the war when it showed pictures of dead British and American soldiers.

Meanwhile the Iraqi satellite channel has been off for most of the last two days. It was restored briefly last night. The state radio service was knocked off but it came back on the air briefly this morning.

On the whole, Arab opinion seems to be still anti-coalition and anti-American in particular. That really hasn't changed at all. Iran has been watching this war very nervously.

It has an official position of neutrality but the media have been very anti war. Today they've been criticised by the country's supervising board for broadcasting which says their coverage is threatening Iran's long term interests.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 1227GMT

We were sitting in the BBC's live position when this tank round came in. It struck the 15th floor - the Reuters office. One person has been killed.

Masonry showered down on us. We all hit the deck and were lying there as bits of rock came down and then we left the roof.

The mood here is very sombre. I saw one veteran French war photographer bursting into tears because he knew the man who had been killed.

We didn't hear or see any outgoing fire whatsoever. It's been said it's a sniper. Snipers will wait for an explosion to fire to conceal their position.

We can't say for certain but we're not aware of this hotel being used by the Iraqis to target the Americans.

US Central Command, Qatar :: Peter Hunt :: 1214GMT

The US-led forces are continuing to tighten their grip on Baghdad. There are some 10,000 soldiers to the west of the city around the international airport.

To the east, American Marines have seized another airport and continued their push into the suburbs.

Military officials say the troops on the ground are encountering resistance, some of it fierce, but there's no sign that the opposition is being coordinated from the centre.

At the Central Command daily briefing, no light was shone on whether or not a bombing raid yesterday, on a building where Saddam Hussein was said to have been meeting other key officials, had resulted in his death.

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 1201GMT

The Americans are now pushing from the north, the south east and outwards from the centre onto the east bank of the Tigris but there has been quite fierce Iraqi resistance.

We've seen buses containing about 500 Iraqi Republican Guards which have been sent up to try to retake territory on the other side of the Tigris.

We've heard dramatic bombing and strafing by Tankbuster aircraft trying to wear down the Iraqi defenders.

Most of Baghdad has emptied out. A lot of people are cowering in their houses hoping for it to be over fairly quickly. Whether it will is a moot point. The Iraqis seem to be resisting.

South of Baghdad :: David Loyn :: 1147GMT

US marines are taking up positions south of Baghdad for what could be a new front in the war in central Iraq.

In a fast-moving war which has seen few set piece confrontations, the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit who have just arrived in Iraq may be about to fight just such a battle.

A division of the regular Iraqi army appears to be almost intact despite air attacks and still posing a threat between here and the Iranian border to the east. Artillery has been brought forward to take them on if they do not surrender this afternoon.

The ground they are fighting over here is a parched wasteland of salt flats, left by what could be one of Saddam Hussein's greatest crimes, draining the environment where the marsh Arabs lived.

Basra :: Clive Myrie :: 1137GMT

Parts of the centre of Iraq's second city are a wasteland of wrecked hotels, shops and burnt-out businesses.

We watched as gangs of youths with donkeys and carts ferried looted goods away; others without transport carried what they could from the buildings they'd stripped bare and set on fire - and yet, amidst the chaos, Challenger Two tanks from the Seventh Armoured Brigade prowl the streets, while Royal Marines are on foot.

Their main aim is to hunt down any Iraqi paramilitaries who may still pose a threat. They say at the moment, they are not here to police the city.

Hillsborough Castle, Northern Ireland :: Brian Hanrahan :: 1124GMT

We've been looking at what President Bush said about the role of the UN in rebuilding Iraq.

It was very difficult to get any information on this point - he talked of a 'vital role' but the detail still seems very vague.

I suspect there is going to be a lot of arguing in Washington from people who are not happy with handing over control and this meeting today doesn't seem to have moved it very far along.

RAF Brize Norton :: Clarence Mitchell :: 1114GMT

The plane carrying the bodies of ten British servicemen killed in Iraq landed about fifteen minutes ago.

It has pulled up outside the terminal building and the first party of bearers are going onto the huge C-17 cargo aircraft to collect the first coffin.

There are three senior clergy waiting at the back of the aircraft ready to say prayers.

Belfast :: Justin Webb :: 1056GMT

Tony Blair and President Bush have been holding a press conference at Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland following their talks on the future of Iraq.

President Bush said Saddam Hussein's grip around the throats of the Iraqi people was being loosened finger by finger.

The President was asked whether he believed the Iraqi leader had died in the bombing of a leadership target last night. He said he didn't know, but it was important that the Iraqi people knew he would be gone. After that the Iraqis would run Iraq. The United Nations would be involved in all aspects of the issue. The world body would have a vital role in helping to stand up an interim authority.

This is a direct contradiction of the President's officials who have been saying in recent days that America would call the shots.

US Central Command, Qatar :: Paul Adams :: 1043GMT

This morning there has been more movement by American forces in Baghdad.

They have been moving across the river from the positions they occupied on yesterday to the east of the city.

We don't know precisely what targets they have in mind, although we understand quite a lot of government buildings have been hit.

We also know that there have been some quite fierce exchanges of fire in the south eastern area of the city where US Marines have taken another airport.

They are still only occupying a relatively small area of the city and experts here say they still expect to see some more fierce fighting.

RAF Brize Norton :: Clarence Mitchell :: 0951GMT

This will effectively be a rerun of the very moving and sombre ceremony we saw taking place here ten days ago when ten other men to die in the war zone were brought home.

They were the victims of either friendly fire or a helicopter accident. In this case the ten men coming back are all combat-related deaths near the Iraqi border or in Iraq itself.

Basra :: Caroline Wyatt :: 0947GMT

The presidential palace is an incredibly luxurious complex but in stark contrast to most of the streets we've just driven through.

We've been able to drive freely through the streets of Basra this morning. We came across no fighting whatsoever. We had an incredibly warm welcome.

Everywhere we stopped people clamoured to talk to us and tell us what they thought. Most were very glad the British were here. Some did come up and say the one thing they wanted to see was law and order.

Near Nasiriyah, southern Iraq :: Andrew North :: 0933GMT

The US Marines I'm with have moved away from Nasiriyah and are involved in quietening pockets of resistance. They're much more involved in the humanitarian needs of the local towns and villages.

There's another development in this area. Two Polish journalists who were seized yesterday at an Iraqi checkpoint near Karbala are reported to be safe and in the city of Najaf.

According to reports, they managed to escape when the Iraqis they were with came under attack.

US Central Command, Qatar :: Paul Adams :: 0914GMT

US officials are scrambling around here to find something to say about what was going on this morning.

There may have been some activity by a sniper, according to reports in the hotel where journalists are staying. Noone here is confirming that.

They are very conscious that something wrong seems to have happened this morning. They say that they have no interest in targeting any journalist, whether western or from the Arab world.

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 0906GMT

There is a possibility that someone could have been sniping from the top floor of this hotel, which has now been targeted.

The side of the hotel looks out east and not over the river. I'm puzzled as to why the Americans would have targeted this.

My initial speculation was that it might have been Iraqis who objected to Reuters people filming from the balcony. We are only supposed to film from our live positions.

Baghdad :: Rageh Omaar :: 0851GMT

The battle is still continuing. I can hear war planes overhead in the Iraqi capital. Tanks are crossing over the Jomhuriyah bridge and they're still there.

There was a round that directly hit the Reuters office. I raced up there and it's a grim situation. Several colleagues have been quite badly wounded and one of them critically. I don't know if it was deliberate. I doubt it.

The situation with Al-Jazeera, initially, looks suspect. Their office had given Washington specific satellite references.

We were watching and filming the bombardment and its quite clearly a direct strike on the Al-Jazeera office. This was not just a stray round. It just seemed too specific.

Amman, Jordan :: Caroline Hawley :: 0843GMT

A spokesman for the Red Cross has talked about a horrendous number of people wounded in Baghdad.

Reports from medics in Baghdad's Al-Kindi hospital suggest that there are no anaesthetics left and has been operating without pain killers.

So there's a critical shortage of supplies and for the UN agencies and the Red Cross, in some cases, no way of getting new supplies into them because of the security situation.

The UN isn't operating at all in Iraq at the moment. Most aid workers are here in Amman watching the situation. The Red Cross has teams on the ground but is having trouble getting to areas. Several hospitals are off-limits.

Belfast :: Peter Biles :: 0824GMT

There is a sense that Britain and America are trying to cover up differences on the issue of UN involvement in Iraq.

It comes down to who you talk to in Washington. Colin Powell, for example, is trying to re-engage the Europeans in diplomacy after the difficult weeks that led up to the war. He said the UN will definitely have a role in post-war Iraq.

I think it will be damaging for Tony Blair if he doesn't get the level of UN involvement he wants to see. He wants to see some form of legitimacy. Everyone is very wary of what may be perceived as American domination.

But neither do the Americans necessarily want to be there for too long. And they'd certainly like some help from European nations in shouldering the financial burden.

US Central Command :: Peter Hunt :: 0802GMT

American officials at Central Command in Qatar said they had bombed a residential area of Baghdad where they believe Saddam Hussein's sons may have been meeting.

They dropped four bombs on the building yesterday afternoon. There was a previous attempt to kill Saddam Hussein at the start of the war in March.

There is no word on whether Saddam Hussein was there or was killed.

Intelligence suggested that the Iraqi leader, his two sons and other key figures might have been meeting in the building yesterday afternoon.

US Central Command, Qatar :: Paul Adams :: 0748GMT

We have been receiving reports in the last few minutes suggesting that a military base in the south eastern part of the city has come under fire from jets and helicopter gunships. It the first time that Apaches have been used over the city.

This points to a thrust into the south eastern part of the city by the US Marines as the 3rd Infantry Division are in the heart of the city itself.

It may be planned to try to link these forces up. You might, in effect, see the southern part of the city in coalition hands.

Baghdad :: Rageh Omaar :: 0710GMT

The battle is really raging on the other side of the river. It's been going on since the early hours of the morning. There seems to be a lot of fighting around the key government buildings.

We've seen A10 tankbuster aircraft flying overhead blasting the planning ministry - an extraordinary sight of this plane screaming down and opening a ferocious bombardment.

At the foot of the building there are tanks positioned on a bridge over the Tigris, firing at Iraqi defensive positions.

But there's a new sound in the city - rotor blades from attack helicopters. It feels like an all out assault.

It seems the Americans are moving like a hot knife through butter at the moment. They seem to be sweeping through on the eastern side of the Tigris river.

Basra :: Clive Myrie :: 0631GMT

I am with the Royal Marines of 42 Commando and they have the city very much under control.

There was a lot of looting yesterday - a lot of violence - but the British troops decided it wasn't worth intervening and getting involved in urban problems with local people.

I suspect that they feel there is a certain amount of letting off of steam to take place between one regime going and another regime - the British coalition forces - coming in.

Hopefully it will be a little quieter today in the centre of town. But British forces are very much in control and will, over the next few days, try to offer any humanitarian help needed to the citizens of Iraq's second city.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 0628GMT

We have seen US tanks crossing over one of the bridges over the Tigris. As far as we know the battle hasn't come to the western side of the city yet.

But the armour is in the process of moving across, perhaps to link up with the Marines.

What the Americans found when they came in here yesterday morning was that there were not large amounts of Iraqi soldiers waiting for them and no Republican Guard.

They were phantom brigades which existed in the mind of the Iraqi government spokesman who we saw yesterday being as self-confident as ever, almost surreally so.

Basra.:: Kylie Morris :: 0617GMT

It will be a story of consolidation here in Basra in the next few days. The British have been saying that they now control the city, at least in territorial terms. But they say there are still pockets of resistance.

The British are fairly confident they hold Basra now. But it's taken more than 2500 troops. Their presence in the city is on a number of levels.

As well as tanks and armoured vehicles there are also troops patrolling on foot.

They are very keen to make the people of Basra aware that they are the new authority in the city.

Belfast.:: Peter Biles :: 0552GMT

George Bush and Tony Blair agree that the coalition will oversee some kind of interim administration. Where they disagree is over the role of the UN.

There are many in the Pentagon who feel the UN should be sidelined. But Britain and other Europeans would like to see the UN playing a central role in the interim period, to give it some international credibility and legitimacy.

America has also made it clear there will be Iraqis in the interim administration. Many exiles have already begun returning, it seems at the behest of Washington.

But this is all up for discussion at the moment and that's what Mr Bush and Mr Blair will get down to with they meet here this morning.

Baghdad.:: Andrew Gilligan :: 0543GMT

The Americans certainly targeted Saddam in the last 24 hours. They bombed the residential district of Mansour yesterday afternoon.

That's exactly the kind of place where you would expect to find Saddam. He doesn't go to his bunkers. He knows the Allies know where they are. He hides out in ordinary neighbourhoods.

Fighting is still going on in the centre of Baghdad. Over the last couple of hours we have heard and seen fierce gun battles on the other side of the river.

There have also been very heavy bombing raids by F-15 and F-16 jets. They've screeched in very low over the city.

Baghdad.:: Paul Wood :: 0518GMT

There is the thunderous sound of tanks and armour moving about. We have seen American A10 tank buster aircraft flying over, attacking Iraqi targets in support of American ground troops on the other side of the Tigris from where I'm speaking.

We believe the Americans took up residence in the Rashid hotel last night. There's fighting around it now and it could be the Iraqis counter attacking.

Hospitals were given stockpiles of drugs to last for six months, says the official story. I spoke to a doctor a couple of week ago who said they already had nothing.

They are now taking casualties constantly when the Americans first came into Baghdad. The doctors are exhausted. They've been operating two days straight.

Washington D.C.:: Ian Pannell :: 0340GMT

An attack Saddam Hussein would be just the latest in a long run of attempts to kill the Iraqi leader and his closest advisors, including his two sons, Uday and Qusay.

Saddam has long been a thorn in the side of American administrations. President George W Bush holds him responsible for a plot to assassinate his father and he has long embraced a policy of regime change in Baghdad.

In the first Gulf war there were numerous attempts to kill the Iraqi leader and those around him.

Operation Iraqi Freedom started ahead of schedule precisely because President Bush had been told that the CIA knew where Saddam Hussein was, although it looks as though that attempt was unsuccessful.

Publicly Washington has played down concern about the fate of the Iraqi leader. What they want to avoid is the success or failure of the war being defined by the capture or death of Saddam Hussein.

However, this latest action shows that it still remains a key objective for both the president and his commanders.

Qatar, CentCom:: Dominic Hughes :: 0240GMT

Military officials here at Central Command in Qatar have confirmed that what they describe as a leadership target in Baghdad was hit very hard at about 1400 local time (1000 GMT) on Monday afternoon.

They say the leadership target was in a residential area in al-Mansour and from what they've said we can assume that Saddam Hussein is the target. Officials here say that there was no way that they can confirm that Saddam Hussein is dead after the strike by a US air force B-1 bomber.

Four precision-guided JDAM bombs were used in the attack after they received intelligence of a meeting of senior Iraqi leaders in Baghdad. US officials say they are carrying out on-going assessment of the damage.

Qatar, CentCom :: Dominic Hughes :: 0130GMT

We can see by the limited and fragmented nature of the opposition directed at US forces that removing the command and structures seems to have been quite effective.

Essentially the Iraqi forces don't seem to have any command and control in place. So you just get small groups of 20 or 30 fighters battling away, but no real coordinated approach to defending Baghdad or some of the other major cities like Basra or Karbala.

The movements of those reporting from Baghdad are restricted and their reports are monitored by the Iraqi authorities. Reporters with the US and British military are restricted in what they can say about precise locations or military plans. Click here for more details.



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