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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 25 March, 2003, 23:24 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.

Tuesday, 25 March

Most recent postings are at the top.

Washington DC :: Nick Childs :: 2215GMT

A senior US defence official says there has been a ground engagement east of Najaf in Iraq involving the US Seventh Cavalry.

Initial reports say that apparently dismounted Iraqi ground forces - it is not known whether they were regular or irregular forces - tried to hit US forces with rocket-propelled grenades.

A couple of pieces of US equipment were damaged, but there are no reports of US casualties as yet.

Initial estimates are that between 150 and 300 Iraqis may have been killed.


Qatar :: Peter Hunt :: 2215GMT

The two British soldiers who died in southern Iraq were members of a tank crew which was part of the Seventh Armoured Brigade, the Desert Rats.

The British forces were firing on Iraqi positions on the outskirts of Basra when the accident happened on Monday night in pitch darkness.

The turret of the Challenger tank is believed to have been blown off when it was mistakenly hit by another British tank.

Colonel Chris Vernon said despite excellent training, these things happen in the fog of war and the heat of battle.


Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 2115GMT

A few minutes after detonations, the state television news turned to static on the screen in the corner of my room.

It was the same for all of the Iraqi channels.

A few minutes later a much more shaky picture came back, this presumably was the relief transmitter.


Kuwait :: Kylie Morris :: 2110GMT

A friendly-fire incident has claimed the lives of two British soldiers in southern Iraq.

The two soldiers from the Queen's Royal Lancers were killed when their Challenger tank came under fire early on Tuesday morning.

The families of those killed and injured are now being informed.


Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 2054GMT

In the midst of an impenetrable sandstorm the bombing of Baghdad has continued.

This evening there were a number of loud explosions near the centre of the city.

It is not clear if they were bomb or missile strikes, or in the haze of the sandstorm, exactly what all of the targets were.


Kuwait :: Valerie Jones :: 2021GMT

I'm in the desert in northern Kuwait about 40 kilometres from the Iraqi border.

We have been brought here by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Information to look at a crater in the sand, a crater about four metres wide.

This is the place where the Kuwaiti authorities say a missile landed fired from Iraq.

We are surrounded by pieces of broken and twisted metal over quite a wide area though it is very difficult to see exactly what this is.


Kuwait :: Kylie Morris :: 1957GMT

British military reports are big on suggestion and short on detail. They say there has been some sort of uprising in Basra but how big and how successful is unclear.

One officer said it could be limited to the periphery of the city. If true any such action would represent a victory for coalition campaign to win the confidence of the people of Basra.


Qatar :: Nicholas Witchell :: 1912GMT

The coalition commanders here are closely in touch with the commanders of the 7th Armoured Brigade, the Desert Rats, in their positions just a few miles south of Basra.

There is a degree of caution, it is clearly a confused situation in Basra. Commanders here want to know what is happening, what scale is this uprising on?

Then of course there will be the critical decision - what should be the response of the British military there? Should they start to move into the city to offer resistance to those who are said to be in revolt?


Qatar :: Michael Voss :: 1843GMT

The battle for Baghdad is starting to take shape. Three separate US mechanised infantry columns are approaching the capital along different routes.

One to the west of the Euphrates River, another to the east. The third is following a line closer to the Tigris River.

Ahead of them are three divisions of Republican Guards who are being targeted around the clock with air strikes.


Northern Kuwait :: Ben Brown :: 1815GMT

British Army sources have confirmed that some sort of uprising appears to be underway in Basra.

This is clearly excellent news for the British Army commanders here. All along their strategy and hope has been that there would be an uprising because the alternative is ultimately that British troops will have to go in there and take over control themselves. That would involve bloody street fighting.

One way or another they have to take Basra but if there is a civilian uprising that is clearly first class news for the coalition. There is a mood of relief and some excitement here at British headquarters.


Northern Kuwait :: Tim Franks :: 1745GMT

A British Army spokesman has said that there is, as he puts it, some sort of uprising in Basra. If true, this is what the coalition forces had hoped for.

The British Army has been shelling positions inside and around the city, held by Iraqi soldiers and militiamen, but up until now there have been no indication of any support inside the city for the American and British-led assault.

Rather, it was believed that 1,000 suspected die-hard Saddam Hussein loyalists were keeping a tight control of the local population. That may now have changed.


Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 1740GMT

Even gale force winds and a blinding sandstorm did not stop the B-52s. The rumble of heavy bombing was felt as much as heard in the centre of the Iraqi capital.

The airstrikes were targeted at the Medina division of the elite Republican Guards, digging in for what both sides agree will probably be a decisive encounter.

In the midst of all this Iraqi ministers are astonishingly confident, even relaxed. State television is tonight broadcasting a statement from Saddam Hussein. The message is this is a national struggle, not just a struggle for the survival of the regime.


Riyadh, Saudi Arabia :: Heba Saleh :: 1732GMT

The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, has said his country is calling for a halt to the war against Iraq in order to allow diplomacy another chance. The minister said Saudi Arabia had made specific proposals and was awaiting the response. He gave no other details.

Saudi Arabia has been extremely discomforted by this war. Public opinion is vehemently opposed to it, but the government needs to protect its strategic relationship with the US. The kingdom is quietly allowing America to coordinate the air war from its territory, but it has refused to permit bombing raids to take off from Saudi soil.


Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 1705GMT

The storm has become even more violent here, I can see palm trees bending in this wind.

I can see the sand blow across the city. It's not the kind of weather helicopters could fly in.


Nasiriya :: Andrew North :: 1626GMT

As sporadic fighting continues, American marines have taken control of a hospital complex in the town which they accuse Iraqi troops of using to fire on US troops.

More than 100 Iraqis were taken prisoner but most in the building fled, according to marine officers.

There were crates with large quantities of nuclear, biological and chemical protection suits. In another hospital room there were boxes full of AK-47 assault rifles and ammunition.

US marines who took control of the complex earlier today say they also found explosives. I could not verify reports by US marines that they had been fired on from the building.

But in corridors and now badly-damaged wards there were many discarded Iraqi uniforms. In an outside storage room, I saw the bodies of three Iraqi soldiers in uniform.


Gaza :: Barbara Plett :: 1605GMT

I'm at an anti-war rally in Gaza.

All the political factions are here - I can see their flags flying together with the Iraqi flag. Quite a few women bringing up the rear, lots of teenagers and young children, some carrying plastic guns.

The Palestinians do identify very strongly with the Iraqis, they're very much against this war. But the response so far has been more subdued than it was in 1991.

At that time they saw Saddam Hussein as a hero of Arab nationalism, somebody who might even be a liberator for them. Now Saddam Hussein is much weaker and I think they might identify with him more as a victim than a liberator.

Also they're worried about what affect this war might have on the Palestinian conflict with Israel. They're afraid that it's bad news for them.


Ali al Salem airbase, Kuwait :: Karen Allen :: 1544GMT

The role of the Tornados has been enhanced in the past 24 hours with a new brief to support troops on the ground.

They've been flying operations in and around Baghdad and also Karbela where US Marines are making their advance.

Their role is to take out tanks and artillery which pose a threat to those on the ground and all movements are carefully coordinated with command and control posts at ground level.

The main talk in the Mess Room is that airmen are finally getting their mail. Rumours are circulating that there are seven tonnes of it in storage back at home because of a glitch in the distribution system.

Thank goodness for email, but not everyone here is privileged enough to have it.


Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 1516GMT

A very huge degree of sand is rushing through the city, there's a very limited visibility. It's starting to go away but what we have is a rainstorm now, so the gods must indeed be angry.

It's spared them a good deal of bombing....it would be very difficult for any pilot to see where to drop the bombs through this cloud of sand.


Washington D.C. :: Michael Buchanan :: 1408GMT

With a sandstorm currently swirling around parts of Iraq, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Richard Meyers acknowledges that the US-led invasion will be delayed, but vowed it would not be stopped. He says that while the war plan is continuing apace, the coalition expects their toughest battles are ahead of them.

General Meyers says that as they near Baghdad, resistance will increase as US-led forces encounter Iraq's Republican Guard, whom he called the best equipped, the best trained, and reportedly the most loyal. But he says that was always expected to be the case and that coalition forces have prepared for it.


Baghdad :: Rageh Omaar :: 1310GMT

There's now a swirling wind full of sand here - it's put an almost a yellow or light-brown filter across the city.

From my hotel room which is on the banks of the Tigris River, I can't see across to the other side of the river bank. It's an absolutely blinding sandstorm, and I would have thought it would be almost impossible for helicopters to be flying in this weather.

However it hasn't stopped the bombardments of positions on the outskirts of the city. I've been hearing deep explosions and rumbles coming from the south, which must be very, very heavy bombs because you can hear them here in the centre of the city from 20 km away.


Umm Qasr :: Ryan Dilley :: 1158GMT

At the old and new ports of Umm Qasr, British and Australian divers have entered the water to begin mine-clearing.

They hope to open this route for humanitarian aid ships bringing food and medicine promised by George W. Bush to the long-suffering Iraqi people.

It has taken us five hours to get here from Kuwait city. It's raining here, a really heavy downpour. I've never seen rain like it.

The local Iraqi people greeted us with smiles and waves and children gleefully accepted chocolate from the troops who are with me. The troops are still keenly aware of the risks of snipers and are on constant lookout.


Qatar :: Jonathan Marcus :: 1045GMT

I think British forces are very reluctant to move into Basra, after all this is a largely Shia city they believed they would be welcomed in.

But the British force is not a particularly armour-heavy force, there's lots of specialised infantry, the Paratroops, the Royal Marines, and so on. All of these units have massive experience, from Northern Ireland, and from the Balkans. They are very well versed in urban combat.

In a funny sort of way, the way the Marines are operating looks very similar to Northern Ireland. If you take the buildings away and change the architecture - you see small groups going in, one man at the back covering the rear, all the windows and openings of buildings covered, and so on.

It's a sort of warfare that these British infantry forces are very experienced in, probably a great deal more experienced than American forces in the region.


Northern Kuwait :: Kylie Morris :: 0910GMT

At the moment the 7th Armoured Brigade is on the outskirts of Basra. They're firing heavy artillery into points within the city where they say they're simply returning fire - meaning that the Iraqis are using their tanks to fire out at the British position.

The opposition they are facing comprises not only unconventional forces, but also elements of the Iraqi 51st division who are regular soldiers. There are also concerns that more reinforcements are coming from the north of the Tigris into the city. So, a major operation, but the British forces say they had contingency plans to deal with this situation.


Umm Qasr :: Adam Mynott :: 0845GMT

British troops have replaced American marines in the southern Iraqi port of Umm Qasr.

The past 24 hours has been generally quiet. Whether that's a measure of the different tactics employed by the British forces rather than the Americans, it's hard to tell.

The Royal Marines are very experienced at urban conflict, patrolling street to street and zoning off areas. And they have a much more 'hearts and minds' approach than the Americans.

The Americans tended to be much more confrontational. If they saw problems they tended to retreat and open fire if necessary. Whereas the British approach certainly has been to move in with a small squad, surround the area, and detain a few people. It seems to be working on the face of it.


Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 0635GMT

We've had a night of very heavy B52 bomber raids we presume on Republican Guard positions south of the city.

Even 20 miles to the north where we are, we could hear the blast, feel the blast, one of the buildings shook. It must be absolute hell down there for whoever's on the end of those things.

Today we have the usual small amount of traffic on the streets, people are coming out to buy the provisions they have to buy. But people are girding themselves.

We've seen no fewer than six ministers in the last three days. They're travelling around incognito.

They lock you in the press conference so you can't see where they're going, but I sneaked out through the kitchens and saw them making off in a taxi. So they are actually still in Baghdad and still very defiant.


Nasiriya :: Andrew North :: 0615GMT

I've just been flown above the town in a US marine helicopter for the past twenty minutes, and it's clear that US forces are now passing through Nasiriya in substantial numbers.

I saw a convoy of hundreds of tanks, armoured vehicles and lorries stretching into the distance.

But the area is still not totally secure. While I was in the air, a Cobra helicopter gunship, not far away, was firing at a target on the eastern edge of town.

There was little sign of life on the streets of Nasiriya, and US marine forces are out in force along the road north.


Central Iraq :: David Willis :: 0550GMT

A large convoy of US marines remains stalled about 100 miles south of Baghdad after encountering heavy resistance from Iraqi forces.

Further shelling took place this morning, aimed at Iraqi convoys, before the marines switched location.

The warm greeting these men received as they entered Iraq has all but evaporated.

The Bedouin tribesmen and their toothy grins have been replaced by tenacious and well-armed groups of Iraqi fighters, seemingly determined to halt the advance on Baghdad.


Southern Iraq :: Jonathan Charles :: 0500GMT

British Royal Marines have moved into positions along the Iraqi border with Iran. It is the furthest east that they have deployed and is a sign that Britain and America are worried that Iran may try to exploit the chaos caused by the war.

RAF Chinook helicopters dropped hundreds of Marines, many looking tired after days moving through the desert into the border region. We went with them into an area pitted with shell holes. They are not from the current conflict, but are the scars left by eight years of fighting between Iraq and Iran during the 1980s.

Now the Marines are trying to make sure Iran can't exploit Iraq's current weakness. The Marines have complained already they've come under fire from Iranian machine guns, a charge denied by Iran.


Washington :: Justin Webb :: 0344GMT

Several American television networks claimed to have heard independently from intelligence sources that the Republican Guard troops around Baghdad could be authorised to use chemical weapons if other means of defence appeared to be failing.

The reports speak of a line drawn on a map of the city; if the invading forces were to cross it, Saddam Hussein has reportedly given permission for a chemical attack.

The reports are not confirmed officially in Washington.


Pentagon :: Nick Childs :: 0310GMT

US-led air forces flew 900 strike sorties in the last twenty-four hours, an increasing number against the Republican Guard.

Unguided as well as guided bombs have been used and a swarm of powerful Apache attack helicopters has also been in action.

The aim is to try to soften up the Iraqi defenders and prevent them from retreating into Baghdad itself.

According to Pentagon officials, direct attacks by ground forces have yet to begin, and they may indeed be delayed a few days as bad weather, including sandstorms, closes in.


Washington :: Peter Greste :: 0115GMT

The New York Stock Exchange lost almost 4% of its value in Monday's trading in response to the setbacks for allied forces in Iraq.

More volatile than a yo-yo is the way one stock market analyst described the behaviour of the New York exchange, and he said it is working with almost as much intelligence.

Over the previous eight days of trading, the Dow Jones index soared 13%, largely on the strength of confidence that this war would be both short and straightforward.

The end of that optimism has chopped more than 300 points off the Dow Jones index.


Amman :: Richard Galpin :: 0005GMT

At a news conference in Amman, Jordan, a UN spokesman said Basra had been without proper supplies of drinking water for the past three days.

More than one-and-a-half million people live in the city. According to the UN, many are now taking water from the river where sewage is dumped.

It is feared 100,000 young children are at risk of becoming seriously ill.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has managed to restore some of the water supply, but so far, to less than half of the population.


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




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