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Last Updated:  Saturday, 22 March, 2003, 00:07 GMT
Reporters' Log: 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.

Friday, 21 March

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 2345GMT

The dogs here are howling as missiles come some way off, they seem to hear them before anyone else does.

The last few minutes and hours have been quiet, after the most intense aerial bombardment of the war so far.

There must have been some casualties, but we cannot say how many, if any there are.

Northern Iraq :: John Simpson :: 2210GMT

It seems that the bombing is finished for this part of the night.

We're going to have to wait and see what happens tomorrow, whether ground troops get sent in.

We know that American Special Forces have been in that area in some numbers.

Whether it's sufficient numbers to be able to secure the oil fields around Mosul and Kirkuk, it is impossible to say.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 2103GMT

Just a few minutes ago I heard another air raid siren going off but I have to say I haven't heard any anti-aircraft fire.

It may be that the Iraqis have been pummelled into submission.

By the time of tonight's second bombing wave that anti-aircraft fire had dropped off quite significantly.

The offices of the deputy prime minister Tarik Aziz have been hit again tonight.

It looks as if the foreign minister's office has been hit, as well as a presidential palace.

Damascus :: Kim Ghattas :: 2024GMT

Riot police stood guard on Friday in front of the Jordanian, Egyptian and American embassies in Damascus, but there were no demonstrators.

The streets of the Syrian capital were quiet and traffic was slow.

Syria may be one of Iraq's neighbours but it certainly doesn't feel like it.

Since the war started, there has been almost no reaction from the Syrian government.

Diyarbakir, Turkey :: Jonny Dymond :: 2015GMT

A military source told me that Turkey is preparing to put its troops into northern Iraq.

The risks of a clash with the Kurdish military - Peshmergas - is very high indeed. The Kurdish administration which runs northern Iraq has vowed to resist Turkish troops.

The US will now need to referee between the two groups which hold very little regard for each other.

This is a high risk of a clash and of a regional sub-war which would be incredibly messy and very difficult to clear up.

The Pentagon :: Nick Childs :: 1939GMT

According to US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers, US-led ground forces have advanced up to 160 kilometres into Iraq and have a presence in the south, west and north of the country.

He said resistance from Iraqi forces has been sporadic, as he put it.

Asked if the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, was still in control of the country, Donald Rumsfeld said he didn't know.

Doha :: Nicholas Witchell :: 1929GMT

The British military commander Air Marshal Brian Burridge said quite seriously that if Saddam Hussein decided to leave, even now arrangements could be made.

It is the earnest wish of the Allies even at this stage, that further conflict could be averted if Saddam Hussein should be overthrown by those around him, or decided to leave.

Southern Iraq :: David Willis :: 1901GMT

I'm with US Marines who have been sent in here, along with British Marines, to secure oil wells. They are close to completing that mission.

This is the region which produces more than a half of Iraq's oil.

I've seen quite a few prisoners of war. I've seen several dozen being looked after by American soldiers and given food to eat.

A lot of people here are very pleased that Saddam Hussein has been attacked in this way.

One group of Iraqis waved at the American soldiers I was with and said "down with Saddam Hussein".

Outside Nassiriyah :: Gavin Hewitt :: 1836GMT

There have been some clashes between American forces and Iraqi forces followed by quite a strong American bombardment of the area around Nassiriyah.

We saw multiple rocket-launchers and artillery being used and there have been some large explosions and also some fires, some of which continue to burn.

But at the moment, the American armoured column is parked very close to the city but at the moment, we don't think any American forces have entered Nasiriyah.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 1829GMT

Looking across the skyline of Baghdad now about half of what's on the skyline is in flames or covered in a dark cloud of smoke.

It was about a 30 minute bombardment.

There was an attempt by the Iraqis to knock down the missiles with anti-aircraft fire.

It didn't do any good. We are in a brief lull. But the new phase of the war has begun.

Baghdad :: Rageh Omaar :: 1806GMT

It looks like it could be the beginning of the much promised 'shock and awe' bombing campaign.

I'm looking out and the city skyline is covered by smoke rising hundreds of feet in the air.

Right in front of me it looks like one of the presidential palaces has taken multiple hits. There's a huge black column of smoke. It's right across the horizon.

There's another massive series of explosions in the distance.

It is devastating fire power raining down right across the city.

Northern Iraq :: John Simpson :: 1802GMT

In the last 10 minutes we've been watching from positions on the Kurdish frontline a major bombing raid on the city of Mosul.

The sky was lit up on the horizon many many times by big flashes. A lot of completely futile anti-aircraft fire went up into the sky.

It may have been B52s that dropped their bombs.

Jordan-Iraq border :: Claire Marshall :: 1738GMT

Babies, women and old people who have made the arduous journey from Baghdad are now sheltering from the fierce desert winds in tents.

Many of them have left virtually all their possessions behind. It's not much of a welcome for them on this side of the border.

Aid agencies have been unable to set in motion a full disaster response.

Kuwait City :: Jon Sopel :: 1727GMT

There have been mixed opinions about today's advance into Iraq. People have had a reality check today.

Yes, the British and American forces have overwhelming fire power. They also have control of the skies.

But the Iraqis have not just rolled over, have not all put their hands up. Their have been areas of very stiff resistance.

The picture is pretty mixed. Anyone who thought it was going to be an easy stroll to Baghdad is having to think again.

Outside Nassiriyah, southern Iraq :: Gavin Hewitt :: 1707GMT

We are in total darkness but I can see the lights of Nassiriyah.

There's been quite a lot of fighting, quite a few rockets. Artillery has landed in and around the city.

We see the very visible the lights of this city on the horizon.

And if we do go in there tonight it'll be the first major Iraqi city to fall to American forces.

Outside Nassiriyah, southern Iraq :: Gavin Hewitt :: 1548GMT

In the past half-hour, the battle for the town of Nassiriyah has begun.

American armour has pushed up just outside the town and there have been salvoes of rockets fired towards Iraqi positions.

A long line of American armour has closed onto the outskirts of the city and there is some fighting taking place.

After a long drive that lasted for about ten hours American forces surprised the Iraqis when they got to the edge of the city.

Kuwait City :: Valerie Jones :: 1531GMT

More than a thousand people sitting on the pavements leading to the Saudi consulate, waiting hours and hours for a visa to get them out of Kuwait.

Two days of air-raid warnings have taken their toll -- there's pressure to leave.

Southern Iraq :: Gavin Hewitt :: 1519GMT

This will be one of the first tests of whether the Iraqi regular army are really willing to engage the amount of force heading towards this town in Southern Iraq.

The last evidence of resistance was about 15 minutes ago.

We saw a multiple rocket launcher being used by the Americans. I haven't heard any other sounds of fighting.

It seems to me the Iraqis have not been replying with shell fire.

Northern Kuwait :: Hilary Andersson :: 1514GMT

Our trip to Umm Qasr has been put off for two hours. There may be some last minute problems going on.

The message from the British authorities here is that they are on the verge of winning the battle for Umm Qasr.

The Iraqis have been engaging the American Marines at a level which wasn't quite expected. The Iraqis have fully engaged the western forces today.

The soldiers here have been down in the trenches again taking refuge from Scud missile attacks. Clearly the Iraqis are putting up a fight.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 1427GMT

It's about an hour away from darkness here in Baghdad.

There is still traffic on the streets but people are hurrying home.

They don't want to be here after darkness falls especially with the fears that it might be a much heavier attack even than that which we saw last night.

They will be remembering the earth shaking explosions here last night and there is a great deal of tension and anxiety in the air now.

Umm Qasr, Iraq :: Adam Mynott :: 1358GMT

There are still pockets of resistance here in Umm Qasr. US marines are patrolling the streets of the town trying to flush out the last remaining Iraqi opposition.

They say they have managed to largely clear the new port and the old port, they say, is now almost secure.

This port - Iraq's only deep water port - is absolutely vital to the coalition aim to use for the delivery of vital humanitarian aid.

They hope to open the port within the next two days.

Southern Iraq :: Gavin Hewitt :: 1321GMT

We are deep into Southern Iraq, certainly well over 100 kilometres north from the border. We've been driving for over 11 hours.

In the last few minutes we just crossed over the Basra-Baghdad highway.

We've had several bizarre incidents in the last few minutes of drivers on the highway completely unaware that American armour may be this far north, stopping their vehicles in utter amazement as we crossed the highway.

Northern Iraq :: John Simpson :: 1250GMT

The fog of war is almost total here in Northern Iraq, but the assumption is that the American special forces who are operating between the Kurdish and Iraqi front lines have been staging some kind of attack on the vast oilfields outside Kirkuk, which are still under Saddam Hussein's control.

They have established a command post which is clearly visible from the Kurdish forward positions, and the Americans there showed a keen interest in the attack, which went on for almost an hour.

The American forces are here clandestinely and the Kurdish ones - who've been officially placed under American control - are largely kept in the dark, so it's proved impossible to find out precisely what was being attacked.

But it does seem highly likely that the American special forces are here to secure the Kirkuk oilfields, and the battle for them may now have begun.

Faw peninsula, southern Iraq :: Jonathan Charles :: 1212GMT

RAF Chinook and Puma helicopters have made flight after flight to the Faw peninsula, hurrying reinforcements to the hundreds of Royal Marines already there.

They are hoping to strengthen the force which is trying to stop Saddam Hussein blowing up his oil fields, making it powerful enough to deal with any Iraqi counterattack.

As we flew in with the Marines we had a sombre reminder of our own vulnerability; we passed by the site where another helicopter carrying Marines crashed earlier today, killing all those on board. A black hole in the sand marks the spot.

One RAF pilot I spoke to told me this mission is a family business. His brother is one of the Marines going in. He said he was proud of what they were both doing, but admitted it was very worrying for their parents.

Northern Kuwait :: Caroline Wyatt :: 1135GMT

We're hearing increased air activity, from where we are, heading over from Kuwait into Iraq. We're not sure what that is, whether it's further bombing raids for example of perhaps reconnaissance missions.

When we woke up this morning, we could see the sky blackened behind us which suggested there were oil wells on fire. We've since been told there are perhaps 30 that have been torched by Iraqi troops, but both British and American troops are enclosing round that area.

Southern Iraq :: Gavin Hewitt :: 1130GMT

I'm with a column from the American Third Infantry division deep inside Iraq. We've now been driving for nine hours - left the Kuwaiti-Iraqi border at about 4.30am; we're still driving.

We did stop for an hour for refuelling - the refuelling was done very quickly; then we continued, pushed in a generally northerly direction.

We've encountered no Iraqi opposition. We've seen very few Iraqi people as we're by-passing centres of population.

So far this is just a big drive north, and I think part of the intention is to persuade the Iraqi people of the enormity of the American power and to persuade the local population that there's not much purpose in resisting.

Cairo :: Mark Doyle :: 1108GMT

The Al-Azhar mosque complex in Cairo is surrounded by thousands of armed riot police. Their modern riot control gear - water cannon and radios - contrast with the ancient minarets and intricate stonework of the mosque.

Inside, Sheikh Sayyid Tantawi, one of the world's leading Islamic clerics, expressed solidarity with the people of Iraq. We must stand, he said, by the side of the persecuted.

As soon as formal prayers were over, a great roar of protest went up inside the huge interior courtyard of Al-Azhar. The people's protest had begun. With all our blood and soul, they cried, we are with Iraq, death to Bush, long live the people of Baghdad.

The riot police then locked the doors to control the crowd and the faithful banged on the doors, straining to get out and continue their protests. The streets and alleyways of ancient Islamic Cairo are now thronging with chanting crowds.

Kuwait City :: Jon Sopel :: 1055GMT

The air raid sirens went off about 40 minutes ago.

As we were putting on our gas masks you could hear two distinct booms quite a long way North.

The Kuwaiti defence ministry are saying they shot down an incoming missile with a Patriot missile - we don't know what the target was but the Patriot missile seems to have done its job because we've been given the all-clear.

Baghdad :: Rageh Omaar :: 1040GMT

The streets of Baghdad are busy today and it feels like a normal Friday in the Iraqi capital. It's very different to the day after the first night of bombing when people stayed indoors.

There are lots of people milling around and I think what we can take from that is that ordinary people are taking on board that despite two nights of bombardments, these are carefully selected targets which are being hit.

The so-called shock and awe campaign is not taking place, perhaps that's why people are venturing out but I'm sure once dusk falls people will go to their homes again and the city will be deserted.

I was just talking to a soldier who said his forces had not been affected by the bombing and they would stand firm. He was beginning to vent a lot of anger and it seemed it was quite genuine - whether it was nervous anger it's impossible to say

New port of Umm Qasr, Iraq :: Adam Mynott :: 1025GMT

US Marines have raised the United States flag above the gates of the new port in Umm Qasr.

This is a symbolic gesture but doesn't signify that the new port of Umm Qasr has been secured.

US Marines are continuing to carry out a sweep with soldiers on all four corners of the port.

At the moment, the main entrance is clear as indeed is a mosque close to the entrance of the new port.

But other areas of the large complex remain unsecured by US forces.

The new port in Umm Qasr moves about 3500 tonnes of goods a day. It is a vital part of the oil for food programme which has been run by Iraq and the UN and various others since 1991.

Northern Iraq :: Gavin Hewitt :: 1015GMT

We crossed with the American 3rd Infantry Division into Iraq at about 4:30 local time.

The tanks moved through a hole which had been cut in the demilitarised zone.

We formed initially a long column, tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles and then later on, we spread out over the desert and currently there is a formation about four kilometres wide of armour moving forward.

We are about now thirty to forty kilometres inside Iraq and we have not found any resistance from the Iraqis so far.

The only people we have met have been those herding goats and camels. Some of them have given a friendly wave.

We are continuing to push forward well inside Iraq.

Northern Iraq :: John Simpson :: 0950GMT

There are all sorts of signs of battle here.

We've heard bombs falling, anti-aircraft fire but it is at some distance.

It has also come to us, unconfirmed, that the oil-fields, possibly the city of Kirkuk have been secured by US Special Forces.

Ark Royal :: Matthew Price :: 0930GMT

Last night D company left the ship at about 4am for the Southern tip of Iraq.

I was up on deck when they left - it was a very eerie sight.

The moon was just about coming through a thick and heavy mist.

These guys were laden-down with kit , plodding along the deck, pretty heavy-footed, weapons in hand.

Then they all lined up and climbed into the helicopters and headed off to Iraq.

Kuwaiti border :: Andrew North :: 0850GMT

It's an impressive sight, this taskforce of more than seven thousand Marines, spread out across the desert ready to move.

There are literally hundreds of vehicles lined up in formation. Commanders are not releasing details of where they'll be going or when.

But they say when they get the order they'll move into Iraq at high speed.

Their preparations to move follow a night of heavy bombardment of areas of southern Iraq just across the border.

At times flashes from explosions were lighting up the sky in several different directions.

There was a near constant artillery barrage. US forces, based behind Task Force Tarawa fired repeated volleys of rockets at Iraqi positions over the heads of the Marines here, and for several hours you could see a flame burning brightly on the horizon, which some Marine officers here believe was an Iraqi oil well on fire.

Kuwait City :: Ryan Dilley :: 0742GMT

Things always look better in the morning - even missile alerts.

Rushed for shelter underground three stomach-churning times during the night.

The first siren of the morning sees me back in the basement but with noticeably fewer companions.

It could be a sign that yesterday the false alarms and news that US-led forces have pushed well into Iraq have calmed the nerves of people here enough for them to ignore the sirens.

However war may now have come to Kuwait city in another way. All around the capital, low on the horizon, lies a grey fog.

The haze, through which the desert sun shines weakly, comes perhaps from an oil well, reportedly set on fire from the Iraqi side of the nearby border.

Northern Iraq :: Stuart Hughes :: 0730GMT

The Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are amassing in large numbers in the town of Cham Chamal on the northern frontline.

Their commander told me they've been given orders to prepare for an assault on Ansar Al-Islam, the militant group allegedly linked to Al-Qaeda, which is based in the mountains above Halabja.

Divisional HQ, Northern Kuwait :: Kylie Morris :: 0650GMT

We've had a fairly sleepless night.

We've spent a lot of it in these 'scud bunkers' as they're being called. There were four or five warnings overnight, which meant that we had to race down into the shelters.

You sit there with your gas mask and on it's a good time to contemplate your life and its value.

You hear thumps all around you and it's very difficult to ascertain how close the missiles are.

We do believe that one of those missiles landed only 300m from the American camps.

There was also the sound of very heavy artillery all night and a lot of air traffic, so a sense that this is well and truly underway.

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 0625GMT

We're not free to move around the city so it's difficult to assess the extent of the damage in Baghdad but once again this was a night of relatively small operations.

I did witness the demolition of a ministerial building complex by cruise missiles. Simultaneously about five separate points of explosion appeared at the base of the building and it was very swiftly engulfed in flames.

I've driven past it this morning and although not demolished it has been rendered completely unusable.

The attack may have been spectacular but it really only lasted for about 15 minutes and after that calm resumed for the rest of the night.

This isn't the devastating blitzkrieg, the shock and awe that has been talked of, it's more like mild surprise than awe I'd say.

Northern Iraq :: John Simpson :: 0615GMT

We've been listening to gunfire in the last few minutes.

It looks like a large American force will be arriving here very soon - they could come by road or by air.

It's all terribly uncertain here at the moment though, largely because the American Special Forces are running things and the Kurds, who we're with, are not being told very much.

But there is certainly a sense of tension and a sense of expectation that down this road or in the sky above us there will be some action quite soon.

Southern Iraq :: Adam Mynott :: 0535GMT

Just a few yards inside the border we've come under what looks like fairly stiff resistance.

There was a firefight for ten or 15 minutes and the vehicles that we were in have now retreated back and I'm taking cover behind a sandbank.

There is smoke billowing away in the distance and the situation is still unclear.

There's so much smoke around it's very hard to tell whether any of the convoy has been hit.

Southern Iraq :: Clive Myrie:: 0525GMT

The Royal Marines are very much in control of this part of Southern Iraq.

I've seen scores and scores of Iraqis, some carrying white flags, giving themselves up.

There's absolutely no doubt that many of these men don't want to fight.

There were a couple of fire-fights at the start of the evening but by and large most of the Iraqis have decided they may as well try to give themselves up and preserve themselves.

We have seen some dead bodies littered around the bunker complex here.

We're not entirely sure what the next stage is from here, but there have been a number of POWs taken already.

Doha :: Paul Adams :: 0515GMT

We're getting dramatic reports of the advancement of the American seventh cavalry.

This is an American armoured thrust into Iraq, it is proceeding across open desert at a rapid pace.

This is the armoured push that is going to head to Baghdad.

Northern Kuwait :: Kyle Morris :: 0510GMT

In northern Kuwait at sunrise there was a thick layer of smoke in the sky.

It is not clear whether it is being caused by oil fires or the bombing and artillery campaign launched overnight in south Iraq.

Southern Iraq :: Adam Mynott :: 0429GMT

I'm with the marines expeditionary unit and we have been moving forward for the past hour. It has been a night of intense artillery activity.

Earlier we passed British guns which were pounding away deep into Iraq.

We have not come under fire but we know that Echo Company ahead of us have. It looks like fairly light resistance. The sky is black but it's difficult to tell at the moment whether or not that's cloud or smoke. I suspect it's smoke.

The morale among the soldiers is pretty high - though perhaps introspective. But given the pretty heavy pounding given to the Iraqi forces during the night they are feeling fairly positive.

I'm in a truck with about twenty men, it is very cramped.

Southern Iraq :: David Willis :: 0426GMT

A massive convoy of US marines and members of the British parachute regiment have entered into Iraq.

A long convoy of vehicles including tanks and artillery set out across the desert after nightfall and snaked their way across the border. We are now heading for the southern oilfields.

It's thought these marines will attempt to secure the oilfields from attack by Saddam Hussein's army.

It is very dusty here and I feel I have inhaled an entire beach load of sand while travelling during the night.

We came across some camels as we crossed the desert and an old shell from the last Gulf war.

We've stopped now to allow them to do some shelling.

Kuwait Iraq border :: Adam Mynott :: 0403GMT

I'm with the marines expeditionary unit and we're just about to cross the border into Iraq. I can't tell you where we are or where we're going.

Sydney, Australia :: Phil Mercer :: 0308GMT

Defence officials here have said Australian special forces have crossed into Iraq to identify troop movements and military targets.

Pentagon :: Nick Childs :: 0229GMT

I am hearing from a defence source here that a US helicopter has crashed, it's believed to have happened in Kuwait. There were both US and British personnel on board. It is believed the crash was an accident.

As far as the overall campaign is concerned the Pentagon officials are tight lipped. We are seeing though a lot of activity both in terms of air strikes and with US and UK ground troops.

The war plan as it has unfolded has not been what we were expecting. The "shock and awe" campaign as advertised by the US military has not yet happened.

It has been a feverish day at the Pentagon.

Doha, Qatar :: Peter Hunt :: 0215GMT

We are waiting here in this featureless hangar in Qatar for news of the ongoing operations.

We do know there is a major operation going on in the Al Faw peninsula in southern Iraq involving both British Royal marines and their American compatriots. They are under the command of the British, the first time this has happened since World War II

Pentagon :: Nick Childs :: 0120GMT

One thing that the Pentagon have been anxious to do all along has been to maintain tactical surprise and I think we are still guessing whether the main operation is underway.

It's not clear how far forward the ground forces are moving but there is a gradual increase in escalation.

US generals are watching for the reaction from the Iraqis to see if they have to go to the full scale all out war.

Kuwait City :: Duncan Kennedy :: 0112GMT

We haven't had any air raid sirens now for a while in the city. There have been numerous overnight here.

We now know that nine missiles have come in the direction of Kuwait itself. There have been no injuries and we believe the missiles have gone down in the desert or in the sea.

Kuwaiti people are shocked, they thought the military operations would be heading north and not south. They are angry that the are the focus of attack.

EU summit, Brussels :: Chris Morris :: 0058GMT

There has been a tense meeting between Tony Blair and Jacque Chirac at this summit. The atmosphere was described as icy and difficult.

Two of Europe's biggest partners are at daggers drawn over this war.

If Europe is to function effectively it needs Mr Blair and Mr Chirac to work together. Fences can still be mended but it will take time.

RAF Fairford :: Jane Hughes :: 0030GMT

I'm at the RAF Fairford base in Gloucestershire where American bombers have been on standby now for several days.

There are 14 B52 bombers lined up on the runway here at the moment. We believe that they are loaded with munitions.

There is a real sense of anticipation here but no one knows if these planes will be deployed in the next few hours. Gloucestershire police says it is deployed armed units at RAF Fairford now.

Kuwait City:: James Shaw :: 0014GMT

There have been seven air raid warnings in Kuwait city tonight. There are reports of missiles being launched towards Kuwait but this is unconfirmed as yet.

The are normally about 50 people inside the bunkers at any one time. We are well equipped with protective clothing and masks. Everyone is taking picture of each other in the bunker, it is very surreal.

There is now a risk of complacency here with further warnings.

Once the sirens started sounding here today, everything closed down. There are checkpoints now where you wouldn't normally expect them. It has turned into a ghost city.

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



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