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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 March, 2003, 06:50 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.

Monday, 24 March

Most recent postings are at the top.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 2300GMT

From somewhere over the horizon to the south of Baghdad came a series of long, low rumbling sounds, each lasting about 20 seconds and accompanied by flashes which lit up the whole sky.

This was very different from the sound made by the impact of a single bomb or Cruise missile.

We concluded it was B52s, probably dropping huge payloads of bombs on the Iraqi soldiers dug in on the outskirts of the capital, waiting to engage the advancing American and British forces.

Central Iraq :: David Willis :: 2252GMT

The marines are trying to dislodge a group of Iraqis, thought to be several hundred-strong and comprising, it's thought, as well as Iraqi regulars, so-called Fedayeen - militia units loyal to Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party.

But it's the dogged nature of the resistance they've encountered that must concern the marines the most. Few anticipated this level of opposition so far from Baghdad and so early in the campaign.

It seems the army and militia men may well have set out from southern Baghdad with the intention of ambushing the convoys as they approach Baghdad and engage them in urban-style guerrilla warfare - the last thing the British and American forces wanted so early in the campaign.

Northern Iraq :: John Simpson :: 2215GMT

In the last hour we've had a series of quite heavy raids partly on the city of Mosul , apparently on the city of Kirkuk and also on the Iran Iraq frontline. A series of attacks that has been at times so heavy that they made the floor of this concrete building where I'm standing shake a little - you could feel it and hear it that loudly.

It may be a coincidence and nothing more than that but earlier in the day a group of British and American special forces came into the area where we are and set up shop in a building quite close by. Whether they're there to spot for the planes - the low flying jets that came in or whether they're here for some wider purpose to plan an attack across the line we don't know - of course you can't easily go and ask them.

Nasariya, Iraq :: Andrew North :: 2145GMT

For the second day the sound of heavy fighting has reverberated around Nasiriya. US marine artillery batteries have been opening up on Iraqi positions, sometimes every few minutes - 10 marines have been killed, casualties on the Iraqi side are not known. Helicopter gunships have been circling above the town all day.

The focus of the fighting has been between two key bridges in the town. Senior officers with this marine unit say they control both bridges - I was able to see the southern bridge over the Euphrates but I was not allowed to go further to see the situation around the second bridge at the town's northern edge.

But it's in this area that the marines say they've been coming under repeated attack, mostly from machine guns but also from rocket propelled grenades. As I approached the southern bridge over the River Euphrates I saw eight Iraqi tanks that had been destroyed by aircraft.

So serious has the battle become that commanding general of all US marine forces in Iraq visited the battlefield in person today. Marine officers estimate that they are facing an Iraqi force several hundred strong bolstered by particularly determined militia or irregular fighters. There have also been reports that elements of the republican guard may also be among the some of the Iraqi fighters

There is no sign yet that the fighting around Nasiriya dying down.

Washington :: Jon Leyne :: 1944GMT

According to a senior state department official, the United States believes authority to use chemical weapons may already have been delegated to the Iraqi commander in the south of the country.

He is Ali Hassan al-Majid, nicknamed "Chemical Ali" because of his alleged role in the gassing of the Kurds at Halabja fifteen years ago. The American fear is that the Iraqis might use chemical weapons on the Shiite Muslims of southern Iraq, then try to blame the United States.

The senior State Department official also repeated allegations that the Iraqis have acquired American uniforms, again the aim being to blame the United States for atrocities against civilians.

Washington has not produced any evidence to back such claims. The Secretary of State, Colin Powell, repeated his warning to Iraq not to use weapons of mass destruction. It would be immediate confirmation he said, that the Iraqis do possess such banned weapons.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 1900GMT

One of the interesting things here in Baghdad is that initially in the first day or so of the campaign, Iraqi ministers simply denied there had been any British or American advance and were saying that after a few kilometres they would be turned back.

Now though, everybody - including Saddam Hussein - says yes, they may have come several hundred kilometres into Iraq but the official line is that when the advance comes to the towns and the cities " there we will stop them, we will not harass them in the empty deserts, we will suck them into a quagmire which they will regret."

What everyone is looking to now is the siege of Baghdad which may only be a couple of days away.

Kuwait City :: John Sopel :: 1750GMT

It's a very patchy picture and very hard to get an overall impression of whether these small skirmishes we are seeing add up to the big picture as the military commanders would have you believe - that everything is going extremely well.

But here in Kuwait City, there have been seven air raid sirens going off in the course of today and a number of missiles have been fired from southern Iraq into Kuwait. That suggests the situation isn't under control and that, of course, has a knock-on effect for the aid programme that the British and Americans have said is absolutely vital to the future.

Umm Qasr :: Adam Mynott :: 1632GMT

It appears to have been a fairly quiet day here today. It has been a strange situation with one unit taking over from another here.

The Royal Marines are now doing a moping up operation here and have spent time getting up to speed with the operation. This unit, 42 commando were brought in quite unexpectedly to take over from US marines.

It's hoped with their hearts and minds approach that they might be more effective in opening the port which would allow humanitarian aid in.

I'm currently with the US navy in the Gulf near Umm Qasr where there is a lot of work being done in clearing mines and checking the water. I can see three large ships in the port of Umm Qasr at the moment. These need checked for mines and booby traps.

I don't think that humanitarian aid will be getting in for some time yet.

Washington D.C. :: Katty Kay :: 1632GMT

I'm standing on the White House lawn and there is a different mood here today. There's a feeling that an over confident US public could be easily shaken by events.

President Bush is trying to rally moral support for the war across America. Tomorrow he is going to visit the Pentagon and he is also travelling to Florida to meet military personnel and to meet army families.

Iraq - Kuwait border :: Kylie Morris :: 1610GMT

We have just been told that 40% of the water supply has been returned to Basra. The water and electricity there have both been cut off since Saturday.

What the coalition forces have been dealing with over the last 24 hours is artillery fire from the city. It is quite heavy artillery fire.

The British are accusing the Iraqi fighters of placing their artillery operation on top of the citizens of Basra. This is a highly undesirable situation for the British forces who are trying not to cause harm to civilians.

Just to give you a small window into Basra, some of my colleagues from the Arabic service have been talking to family members in the city.

They say there are staying in their homes, that they are fearful of going out. They say the streets are busy with fighters, believed to be members of the Ba'ath party.

It looks like there are rough days ahead for Basra.

Southern Iraq :: Duncan Kennedy :: 1530GMT

We've just come back from Southern Iraq into Northern Kuwait because it was simply too dangerous for us as journalists.

We were in the border town of Saf Wan with a number of other journalists and last night the British military drove up and simply told us to get out of there.

The reason being there were many armed men on their way to attack us. We sped off and spent the night at the side of a motorway with our car lights off, trying to keep quiet.

We learnt this morning that there was a fire-fight between British soldiers and armed Iraqi militia in the town.

So even though it's a little town just inside the Iraqi border, one that you would have thought would have fallen days ago, that wasn't the case for a few hours overnight. British forces have regained control but it is just one example of how, although it may be small and unorganised, there is still resistance here in Southern Iraq.

Nasiriya, Iraq :: Andrew North :: 1514GMT

I am on the outskirts of Nasiriya and there has been a battle ongoing here all day. The fighting is still going on and there is no sign that the American forces will be able to move forward from here.

I can see to my right a burning oil tank, flames rising from it and billowing black smoke. It was hit by a helicopter gunship.

There has been a constant flow of helicopters overhead all day and in the last few hours the battle to the north of the city has intensified.

The main battle appears to be around a key bridge to the north of the city.

Pentagon, Washington D.C. :: Nick Childs :: 1502GMT

In terms of overall assessment the coalition forces are saying they are still insisting things are going well.

There is concern about the public reaction to a difficult day yesterday. General Franks, at a briefing in Qatar, has been trying to offer reassurance, he repeated several times at his briefing that certain events that have happened weren't a surprise. I think there is concern now about public reaction to events.

Pockets of resistance remain in the south. What the coalition forces were expecting is unclear. They are adjusting their strategy.

We are moving into a difficult phase now.

Kuwait City :: Ryan Dilley :: 1412GMT

Another two air raid alerts in Kuwait - within minutes of each other. That makes five today.

Just spoken to some German soldiers posted in Kuwait to monitor for a chemical or biological attack. They say none of the Iraqi missiles which have been shot down or have evaded the defensive shield, carried chemical or biological agents.

However, none of these troops are expert in identifying Iraqi missiles, so cannot say whether the projectiles fired are of a type which were banned by UN resolutions and which Baghdad denied possessing.

Iraq - Kuwait border :: Caroline Wyatt :: 1330GMT

The coalition forces are trying to make radio broadcasts to the people of Basra now and are dropping leaflets from the air. They are keen to tell the ordinary people of Basra that they will be alright and will be free to get on with their lives when last remnants of resistance has been dealt with militarily.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 1220GMT

We've seen pictures on Iraqi television of one downed helicopter with American markings. The Iraqis are claiming they have two helicopters and two pilots who will be put on television later tonight.

Yesterday morning they were telling us that they had American soldiers and they would be put on television that evening and they were, so we perhaps might expect to see American service personnel being displayed and interviewed on television once again.

The Iraqis have been pressed about this - the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Naji Sabri, who is out of Iraq at the moment at an Arab league meeting in Cairo was asked about the Geneva Convention. His answer was that Iraq was an ancient civilisation, it didn't need to be taught any lessons by the Americans or anybody else and it would go by its own precepts and by the precepts of Islam.

Kuwait City :: Valerie Jones :: 1155GMT

The air raid sirens in Kuwait City had gone quiet yesterday giving perhaps a sense that the war had moved elsewhere.

But four times during the night and day here we've been sent to the shelters again. Two alerts were false alarms, but two were missiles shot down by the Patriot missile batteries in northern Kuwait.

No missiles have fallen in Kuwait City; two that passed over fell into the sea. It's not clear what type of missiles are being fired, but they've all been carrying conventional warheads.

Central Command, Qatar :: Paul Adams :: 1150GMT

British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon's message was the same today as it has been throughout - not anticipating instant breakthroughs, not anticipating the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime within a day or two, but making it clear that there will be difficulties along the way.

He gave very little away whilst still emphasising the idea that the campaign is essentially going to plan.

Nasiriya, Iraq :: Andrew North :: 1115GMT

I've just arrived on the southern edge of Nasiriya and it's clear that the US troops here are still encountering significant resistance from Iraqi forces in the town.

Since I got here, a US marine artillery battery, located about five hundred metres behind me, has fired more than thirty shells at Iraqi positions in the town over the heads of the troops I'm with.

I can see flames on the edge of town and thick black smoke, which marines here say is coming from an oil tank that's been set on fire.

Senior officers say they still control two key bridges in the town but admit Iraqi forces are proving hard to subdue.

USS Mobile Bay in the Gulf :: Brian Barron :: 1050GMT

We got thirty minutes warning of the latest bombardment. There's no official confirmation, but the targets are thought to have been military installations and bunkers belonging to the Iraqi forces.

As the missiles were fired one by one towards Iraq with a deafening roar from their rocket motors, crew members waved their fists and shouted, "Go, get 'em."

The commander of this warship, Captain Jim Kier, says that a lot of the crew are fired up about the American POWs. "There's no question that when we saw that on the news, the crew was very concerned about the health and safety of their fellow fighting soldiers, so we are watching this with great interest," he says.

Kuwait City :: Ryan Dilley :: 1050GMT

Two more missile alerts sounded during the night, bringing the number of times Kuwaitis have had to rush for shelter to 12.

Since the accidental destruction of an RAF Tornado jet by "friendly" Patriot missile fire, some people are questioning the quality of this defensive shield.

The commander of a Kuwaiti Patriot battery says the anti-missile weapons are 100% accurate, but also later admitted at least one Iraqi projectile evaded their radars to fall on Kuwait.

The night time alert gave me the chance to see what Kuwaiti TV broadcasts after bedtime - a continuous loop of gruesome footage of Iraqi atrocities from the occupation, perhaps intended to bolster support as the war to the north proves more difficult than originally predicted.

Kuwait :: Hilary Andersson :: 1005GMT

In the last half hour there has been another missile alert. Everyone has run into the trenches to take cover.

That's the first missile alert in 24 hours so clearly the Iraqis are still firing heavy artillery in this direction.

It's a fairly messy scene in Southern Iraq.

British Royal Marine Commandos have taken over from the US forces here to allow the Americans to move north.

British forces have come under fire, mostly sniper fire, particularly to the south and west of Basra.

Northern Iraq :: John Simpson :: 0858GMT

Ordinary Iraqis watching Saddam Hussein's latest television appearance will have drawn one essential message from it - Saddam is still in control and it's much too soon for anyone to turn against him.

As long as he can continue to make these highly effective appearances on television, the coalition forces are going to have a serious problem.

And unless they can drive him off the screen and out of Baghdad they are likely to have real problems taking the city.

Half an hour's air time on television has done more for his cause than the relatively small numbers of loyal soldiers who have been holding up the coalition's advance.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 0830GMT

President Saddam Hussein has just given an apparently live broadcast on national television.

There is little doubt here that these appearances are genuinely by the Iraqi leader. It looks like him, it sounds like him, he's talking at a length and in a manner, which if it were a double, I don't think he'd be given that much space to ramble on. This is classic Saddam, the classic rhetoric of defiance.

It is a central part of the strategy of the Iraqi authorities to keep their President in the public eye. He is seen more or less continuously on Iraqi television during the day and really that's no surprise because the personality of Saddam Hussein has been vital for everything that's happened in this country over the past thirty years.

You can't walk five yards down the street without seeing his picture and the Iraqi leadership know it's vital to keep him in the public eye at all time if the morale of their fighters is going to hold.

Ali Al Salem base, Kuwait :: Karen Allen :: 0820GMT

The air raid warnings at this air base may have all but ceased since the start of the aerial bombardment of Baghdad - but this brief lull in tension has quickly passed with the news that the Tornado crew from here failed to return.

The revelation that they were shot down by a US patriot missile battery has caused anger and bewilderment.

Yet round the clock operations continue as normal - strike and reconnaissance missions across the border.

The past 24 hours has seen poignant moments too. Last night I received a text message from a pilot offering sympathy at the news of my ITN colleague's Terry Lloyd's death.

It was a deeply humbling gesture, knowing that on that very same day he has just lost two of his own team.

Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas :: Chris Ledgard :: 0741GMT

It's the middle of the night here, we can see the lights on behind us in the army base, the families of those Americans being held in Iraq are here, the chaplains are with them now.

The Fort Bliss military complex sprawls for many miles over arid countryside on the US/Mexican border.

The mother of one of the soldiers, Joseph Hudson, learned of his capture when Iraqi television footage was shown on a Filipino satellite station to which she subscribes. Most of the other relatives are said not to have seen the video.

The 507th Maintenance Company was providing technical support to the Third Infantry Division and it seems part of the unit became detached and was captured. One Fort Bliss officer described the use of the pictures of killed and wounded soldiers as exploitative and uncalled for. In the last Gulf war, two soldiers from Fort Bliss were the first US troops to be captured. They were later released.

Cairo, Egypt :: Mark Doyle :: 0723GMT

The Iraqi Foreign Minister, Naji Sabri, is in Cairo to appeal for Arab support in resisting the American-led invasion. He is attending a meeting of the Arab League which Iraq is hoping will assure unanimous condemnation of the attack.

But despite widespread popular Arab fury against the war, some countries, including Kuwait which was invaded by Iraq in 1990 are expected to oppose Iraq at the Cairo meeting

Iraq - Kuwait border :: Hilary Andersson :: 0712GMT

I'm told that 3 Para of the British army have come under fire in Rumeila oil field, this is after we were told yesterday that the oil fields were secure.

There's a very messy picture emerging from southern Iraq.

There are strategy meetings going on at a high level to try to agree what to do about this. It is unconventional warfare in the south, guerrilla fighting. The south of Iraq was to be the easy part of this war, the military are now using the words guerrilla war and long term.

Northern Iraq :: Jim Muir :: 0644GMT

So far as I'm aware it's a question of the Kurds continuing to man the frontline here. In my experience the fire has been coming from the Iraqi lines, they have been laying mines too.

I don't think the Kurds have moved forward as yet.

Iraq - Kuwait border :: Tim Franks :: 0631GMT

The British are having an uncomfortable time in Southern Iraq. I'm told all units are coming under fire, they are describing it as 'niggly' fighting. It is very difficult to deal with this, this is unconventional warfare.

The message from the Iraqis is you can have the desert but when you come to any of our towns we will resist.

The biggest problem for the British troops could turn out to be Basra. It was thought that Basra would welcome the troops, that they would be able to wander in, lightly armed but that's not the case now. Also concerns that Basra is facing a humanitarian disaster, water and electricity have been cut off now for at least 48 hours.

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 0627GMT

At the moment I can hear the sounds of normality, cars in the streets, the air raid siren sounded the all clear about half an hour ago. Bombing was spaced out more, we hardly saw any anti-aircraft firing during this bombing.

Vast areas of the city are unharmed. We haven't heard any casualty figures yet today.

Umm Qasr :: Adam Mynott :: 0520GMT

The Fifteenth US Marine Expeditionary Unit, known as Fifteenth MEU, are being replaced in Umm Qasr by Four-Two Commando of the Royal Marine Commandos.

Fifteenth MEU has been fighting for the past three days here. This is where coalition forces intend to get humanitarian aid on shore as quickly as possible via the two ports in the town.

Southern Iraq :: David Willis :: 0502GMT

American marines advancing on Baghdad have encountered fierce resistance.

The vast convoy that I am in ground to a halt overnight as it became involved in a fire fight. There is no word on casualties from that exchange.

Nasiriyah :: Andrew North :: 0407GMT

The commanders of this US marine unit here have admitted that they were surprised by just how hard and how determinedly the Iraqis fought yesterday.

They had some idea of the kind of firepower they had but I think they were expecting more surrenders.

In fact what happened was that this force of some 500 Iraqis really fought down to the last and the US had to call in air power to push the Iraqis back.

Central Command, Qatar :: Peter Hunt :: 0318GMT

It is the very worst possible news for the British military. They have suffered a series of setbacks and now this - two servicemen missing in southern Iraq.

The MoD is being deliberately vague about the details because they hope to recover these two from Iraq and they fear giving away too much information to the other side.

It comes on top of up to 12 US servicemen going missing and a catalogue of accidents which have involved British military personnel.

Central Command, Qatar :: Peter Hunt :: 0126GMT

An American military spokesman here has given us a one-line statement after unconfirmed reports that a chemical weapons factory has been discovered in southern Iraq.

He just said: "We have identified sites of potential interest and we're looking into it".

Washington :: Nick Childs :: 0050GMT

A sign that we are moving into a critical phase in this campaign is an increased focus in the last 24 hours on the Republican Guard divisions protecting Baghdad.

The intense air bombardment that has been continuing in Baghdad - in direct support to the American ground forces - has been directed at the Republican Guard.

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



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