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Last Updated:  Thursday, 27 March, 2003, 00:02 GMT
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.

Wednesday, 26 March

Most recent postings are at the top.

Washington :: Katty Kay :: 2350GMT

Tony Blair has arrived for talks with George Bush. I think immediately, this is going to be a council of war.

While Tony Blair will look to address the post-Saddam Iraq, they are also going to be discussing the military campaign..

They've got a lot of ground to cover. There is the question of Baghdad and how to launch that attack, and the post-Saddam era. Tony Blair is adamant there has to be UN involvement. The US is not so sure.

The differences are becoming more and more apparent.

This is a US administration which felt it had got its fingers slightly burnt by going back to the UN for a second resolution.

Qatar :: Peter Hunt :: 2309GMT

US troops have parachuted into northern Iraq - it's potentially quite a significant development. From the opening part of the campaignthey haven't been able to fight the war on all the fronts they wanted.

They haven't been able to put in troops from the north. This could be the start of this process.

I suspect if America had its way we'd have seen this sort of movement in the north much earlier.

Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland :: Andrew Marr :: 2225GMT

Tony Blair is determined. There's no sign that he's seriously reconsidering either the military strategy or the pretty ghastly diplomacy around it.

It's quite clear he and George Bush are going to have to talk about what happens if Saddam makes a last stand in Baghdad. There will be a lot of military conversation.

But I think the bulk of these talks are going to be about what happens afterwards.

Will the Americans welcome an early role for the United Nations or is George Bush listening to those many in the US administration who say the UN has had its chance?

Tony Blair will have a lot of work to do to bring the Americans around.

North of Nasiriyah :: Gavin Hewitt :: 2215GMT

As American armour has moved through the small towns, crowds have lined the routes.

Most have waved, many have smiled. Some of the kids shout "water, water".

But I found the atmosphere subdued There were quite a few sullen faces.

Certainly here there is little feeling of liberation

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 2115GMT

Over the last hour we have had several loud explosions here in Baghdad. It's difficult to see exactly what has been hit but it seems it's government targets being hit once again.

Residents of As-Shaarb - where several people died in a market place last night - are denying strenuously that any military hardware was positioned amid the shops and apartment blocks of their residential district of Baghdad.

They are in no doubt, as are the Iraqi authorities, that this was an attack on civilians.

Whatever the truth - of how this bomb or missile came to land on As-Shaarb and who it belonged to - this is already a propaganda victory for the Iraqi authorities.

South of Nasiriyah :: Andrew North :: 2104GMT

Iraqi forces have launched a rocket attack on US marine positions south of Nasiriyah as fighting around the town goes into a fifth day.

Groups of rockets were fired from what marines here believe was a Russian designed multiple rocket launcher over a 15 minute period.

Many of the rockets landed close to where I am and troops across the camp dived for cover. At least 20 Marines have been injured, most by shrapnel.

US aircraft are now bombing Iraqi positions, the sound of multiple explosions resounding across the area. Artillery is also being used.

Southern Iraq :: Hilary Andersson :: 2024GMT

I can hear loud explosions quite close by which have been going on for the last few minutes. This has been the case sporadically through the afternoon.

The picture across Southern Iraq today is one of quite a lot of instability.

It's a huge area which 20,000 or so British forces are trying to control and its proving very difficult.

You have areas of several square miles being patrolled by British vehicles. Civilians are confused. They don't know whether the British have come in peace or are a threat.

Some civilians have greeted soldiers. Others have been very unfriendly. At one aid distribution today locals opened fire on the British troops as they were trying to distribute aid.

So the overall picture is very confused.

The Pentagon :: Nick Childs :: 1958GMT

In its latest briefing the Pentagon said it was still looking into the reported attack on a market in Baghdad where several people were killed.

But it said it didn't target anything in that part of Baghdad.

Major General Stanley McChrystal of the US Joint Staff said something had landed there.

But he didn't know if it was a stray US weapon or perhaps Iraqi anti aircraft missiles.

Southern Iraq :: Clive Myrie :: 1923GMT

A number of vehicles in this Iraqi column of armour have been hit by Coalition jets. The attacks from the air and ground have been going on now for over two hours.

This was after a huge column was seen to be leaving the south-eastern approach roads of Basra heading towards our position down on the Al-Faw peninsula.

Coalition planes are using thermal imaging and night vision so they have an advantage over the Iraqis.

At the moment it would seem the Iraqis are sitting ducks.

Doha, Qatar :: Nicholas Witchell :: 1844GMT

Central Command has just issued a short statement which seems to be their way of acknowledging responsibility for the incident in Baghdad which caused considerable civilian death.

It was an attempt to target Iraqi missile launchers in Baghdad.

The Coalition says the missiles were placed in a residential area which were positioned, they say, less than 300 feet from homes.

Travelling to Camp David :: Andrew Marr :: 1820GMT

There are still very important military decisions to be chewed over by Tony Blair and George Bush, above all what happens if Saddam stages a last-minute stand.

How many Iraqi lives do they jeopardize in order to protect British and American soldiers' lives?

Beyond Iraq there is still the shattered world community - America and Europe divided.

In the American administration there are plenty of people who say that's enough of the UN.

Tony Blair really wants to eyeball George Bush and assure himself that George Bush is prepared to return to the UN.

Amman, Jordan :: Richard Galpin :: 1808GMT

The International Red Cross says more than twenty thousand people have moved out of their homes in north eastern Iraq towards the border with Iran.

The United Nations is describing it as the largest and most serious movement of people since the war in Iraq began last week.

The Red Cross says it was informed by the authorities in northern Iraq that the people moved from the Kurdish area of Sulaymaniyah several days ago and are now in a town close to the Iranian border.

They're reported to be staying in mosques, schools and the homes of friends and relatives. At the moment, it's not clear whether they intend crossing the border into Iran.

Southern Iraq :: Clive Myrie :: 1743GMT

The fire fight has now been going on for sometime, almost 90 minutes. I understand there are 120 vehicles in this Iraqi convoy heading south from Basra, a huge convoy.

The attack is still going on, I can hear the dull thud of missiles being dropped on these vehicles.

Florida, USA :: Fergal Parkinson :: 1729GMT

Faced with the prospect of a more complicated war in Iraq than previously thought, George Bush made his first official trip out of Washington since the attacks began to rally the troops.

Speaking before hundreds of coalition forces here at the spiritual home of US Central Command in Tampa, Mr Bush said the battle was far from over.

He warned troops that the campaign may be long and he vowed that the United States would continue along the path all the way to Baghdad and all the way to victory. He promised that the United States would provide all necessary aid to the Iraqi people when the war was over.

After addressing the troops, Mr Bush, accompanied by his wife Laura, had lunch with the families of some of the servicemen stationed in the Gulf.

He is now on his way back to the capital to meet with PM Tony Blair.

Nasiriyah :: Andrew North :: 1722GMT

It seems this evening that intense fighting is still going on in the town of Nasiriyah. In the last 15 minutes there have been massive artillery barrages directed at Iraqi positions in the town.

There is also the sound of aircraft overhead, the sound of fighting continuing here.

Southern Iraq :: Clive Myrie :: 1657GMT

I am with British troops, Royal Marines 40 Commando in southern Iraq. A huge column of Iraqi troops has been detected in the area, believed to be 70 to 100 vehicles.

Both a British radar and drone have spotted this column and it is heading south east.

This is being seen as either a possible counter attack to try and regain some of the territory lost on the Al Faw peninsula or a tactical retreat from Basra, where a popular uprising has been reported. It is unclear at this stage which one of these reasons is going on.

A number of fighter jets have been directed to the area and I understand the column is being bombed from the air now.

It was very alarming to hear that this huge column of armour was heading our way.

Pentagon, Washington D.C. :: Nick Childs :: 1551GMT

Pentagon officials say they the US-led forces are taking steps to deal with the continuing resistance from the so-called Fedayeen forces in the south of Iraq. But they're playing down any suggestion that this is effecting the strategy, and say that US-led forces are still pressing forward towards Baghdad.

If anything, one official said, it's been the weather that's held things up. That official also indicated that it's more the resistance in populated areas that is causing concern, rather than the threat to US supply lines.

Doha, Qatar :: Michael Voss :: 1535GMT

Military planners at Central Command headquarters are expressing concern over the tactics being used by Iraqi forces, particularly the paramilitaries.

According to Brigadier-General Vince Brooks, examples range from troops changing back and forth from military to civilian clothes, the use of civilian buses to transport fighting troops and using women and children as human shields.

A hospital near Nasiriyah has also been used to store weapons and ammunition.

Southern Iraq :: Kylie Morris :: 1415GMT

In the town of As Zabayr and on the outskirts of Basra, British forces are carrying out what they described as aggressive patrols against guerrilla fighters who they say are Ba'ath party loyalists.

In Basra, there is still an exchange of artillery fire under way between British and Iraqi positions. Earlier, a senior British military officer had reported that paramilitaries were fleeing the city.

Early on Wednesday coalition air forces targeted and destroyed a Ba'ath party complex in As Zabayr. There was also a raid on Ba'ath officers in Rumaila where a cache of weapons was found. British military sources say it's clear that irregular forces are using the Ba'ath party infrastructure as their power base.

Safwan, Iraq :: Valerie Jones :: 1359GMT

I have just crossed into Southern Iraq with the Kuwaiti Red Crescent and the first load of humanitarian aid. There are really chaotic scenes here, people are scrambling for food and climbing into the trucks.

There are three trucks, carrying food stuffs and water. This is a gesture the Kuwaiti Red Crescent wanted to make from the Kuwaiti people, but this is not the reaction they expected.

We got to the border town of Safwan, as the doors of the trucks were opened people scrambled inside and grabbed the boxes and bags of food. They started throwing them out into the crowd.

One man told me they really needed these supplies as there was no water in Safwan. Soldiers are here with us but are uncertain about the mood of the crowd, some are chanting Saddam good, Bush bad.

The military are now circling the trucks and are hoping the scene will calm down.

Southern Iraq :: Tim Franks :: 1325GMT

It's very difficult to pin down what is actually happening in Basra. We've been metaphorically pinning British military spokesmen against the wall all day and last night saying "Come on - what is the evidence of this uprising?"

All they have said to us is that they are absolutely 100 percent, copper-bottom certain that there was some sort of uprising. They don't know its scale, they don't know where exactly it happened but they are certain there was some sort of disturbance there.

Indeed since then it's been a very active morning - street to street fighting between British forces and Iraqi forces just to the west of Basra and in the outskirts of the city.

Doha, Qatar :: Michael Voss :: 1258GMT

The sandstorms continue to impede the advance on Baghdad, with almost all coalition helicopters grounded. The weather also provides cover for Iraqi units to mount hit-and-run raids on advancing troops.

In one of the biggest engagements of the war so far, several hundred Iraqi troops were killed after ambushing the US Seventh Cavalry between Najaf and Karbala. A separate advance has also been halted to the east of the Euphrates river, and artillery strikes called in.

Overall, military sources say, the priority is to consolidate, getting supplies and more troops into position, along what appears to be a one-hundred-and-fifty-kilometre wide front to the south of Baghdad. Keeping supply lines open is a major priority.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 1238GMT

The ambulances are still taking people away. There are four or five cars which have been completely flattened by the blast. According to local people, there was a family in one of the cars when what they believe were two missiles came in and struck.

This is a row of shops and a row of workshops. People were working on repairing cars at the time. There is a mood of anger here. A lot of people have said to me in bewilderment give a message to Bush and Blair that this has got to stop.

There are Iraqi militiamen and armed police now shepherding the traffic around and there is a huge hole in the ground -- one of the blast impacts from what people say were two missiles fired here over the past couple of hours.

Southern Iraq :: Andrew North :: 1231GMT

The area around Nasiriya remains extreme volatile. For the fourth straight day fighting has continued around the town. I'm outside Nasiriya at the moment - even here the security situation is tense.

At this very moment US marines are using a psychological operations loudspeaker and ordering what appears to be three Iraqi civilians out of their vehicle. Three days ago this road was seen as secure but the marines are increasingly assuming that any Iraqi they see on the road is hostile.

Northern Iraq:: Jim Muir :: 1223GMT

At present, there is no northern front to speak of. What there is, is a long but static confrontation line manned by Kurdish Peshmerga fighters on the northern side and Iraqi government troops to the south.

There's been no sign so far of an offensive shaping up imminently because there just aren't the coalition troops on the ground to do the job.

The Kurdish forces have put themselves at the disposal of the US-led coalition. But so far, the agreement is that they should stay put. US special forces have begun arriving by air in Kurdish-held northern Iraq, but in hundreds rather than thousands.

Jordanian-Iraqi border :: Martin Asser :: 1152GMT

We've just spoken to two Iraqi young men who've come to the border - just in an ordinary Jordanian taxi - who say they're going to Basra to take part in the war.

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 1149GMT

What seemed to be two missiles have landed in a busy shopping parade in the suburb of Shabh - we could see the craters. Shops and businesses either side of the road were burnt out and blackened with their stock and fittings thrown dozens of feet into the air.

An enraged crowd of several hundred waved the shoes and clothes of the victims at us, shouting "Down with Bush, long live Saddam."

Civil defence sources told us that at least 14 had been killed, thirty injured in what was plainly a civilian district. That is however an Iraqi claim. We didn't see any dead bodies or injured people ourselves. They'd been removed to hospital by the time we arrived, we were told.

The nearest military building, civil defence headquarters, is I have to say at least a quarter of a mile away.

Jordanian-Iraqi border :: Martin Asser :: 1140GMT

We are waiting at the Jordanian-Iraqi border to try to catch anyone leaving or entering Iraqi territory. There are reports of thousands of Iraqis crossing back into Iraq 'to defend their land' but so far no one has come today.

Maybe the bad weather has put them off - or reports of bombing on the road between here and Baghdad.

A Jordanian limousine driver is waiting here with us. He has just come out of Iraq and he's worried about his colleague who was behind him but who hasn't reached the border. He says he saw three or four bombed out vehicles on the road.

Jordanian police invited us for tea inside the border complex but weren't able to tell us anything about conditions in Iraq.

Iran - Iraq border :: David Loyn :: 1132GMT

I am on the Iranian border with Iraq and have seen Iranian preparations for refugees fleeing from the war in Iraq.

There are preparations being made at some of the camps ready to take more than three hundred thousand refugees if it should prove to be necessary.

There are no tents yet, but large earth-movers are levelling the ground. And they need to check the ground for mines too, for this land was a battlefield for almost a decade in the 1980s in a war in which a million died.

Now, Iran is preparing to help its former enemies as refugees from Saddam Hussein. But so far none have come.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 1120GMT

According to Iraqi sources there's been a direct strike on a residential area, a shopping area. We heard a plane and then two very loud explosions. The trees were on fire, cars were on fire, there were bodies in the street.

Eyewitnesses say they've seen at least 15 bodies - the Iraqis are talking about dozens of dead. There's a great deal of anger - people shouting, waving Kalashnikovs. The feeling on the Iraqi streets this morning is that this was a strike on a civilian target.

Kuwait City :: Ryan Dilley :: 1106GMT

After high winds battered Kuwait City last night (threatening to up-root palm trees), the morning dawned a thick, murky yellow. Visibility was almost nil and breathing was difficult. Conditions around the border must be impossible.

This hasn't stopped Kuwaitis trying to take food aid to southern Iraq this morning. A similar effort was made yesterday, but the convoy turned back due to security fears. It is doubtful the trucks will make any more progress today.

Moscow :: Nikolai Gorshkov :: 1053GMT

Addressing the upper house of the Russian parliament, Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov poured scorn on the coalition's claims that it was liberating Iraq.

He said the coalition's attempts to present the military action as triumphant march, with minimal casualties and destruction, were far removed from reality.

He also warned that any claims by the advancing US and British forces about discovering weapons of mass destruction would not be accepted by Russia unless verified by the UN weapons inspectors. Mr Ivanov expressed concern over, what he called, the US attempts to drag Russia into an information war on Iraq.

Iran - Iraq border :: David Loyn :: 1022GMT

We've just got to a refugee camp near the border with Iran.

It's flat desert all the way from here to Basra. People here have relatives inside Basra and are extremely concerned about what is happening there.

The Iranian government are preparing for up to 300,000 refugees on their border.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 1012GMT

The city is almost completely shrouded in a sandstorm. There are cars on the streets and people going about their business. The recent explosions were only a short distance down the road from where I am, towards the south of the city.

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 0953GMT

There have been two very loud explosions heard in the city centre. We do not know yet what the target has been.

Turkey :: Jonny Dymond :: 0940GMT

There have been some soothing words from a senior Turkish general today, trying to calm down fears of a Turkish invasion into Kurdish controlled Iraq.

There has been a lot of tension about any potential incursion in recent days.

The two Kurdish groups which control northern Iraq have made it clear that Turkish troops are not welcome. The US is shuttling forwards and backwards between the Turks and the Kurds to try and establish a co-ordination mechanism.

These efforts have been going on an awfully long time and the US are struggling with this. It doesn't seem any closer to a real agreement just yet.

Southern Iraq :: Jeremy Cooke :: 0919GMT

After an intensive night things are relatively calm where I am at the moment. We are in a regrouping phase here at the moment. The British authorities say, that after a night of fighting in horrendous conditions, there have been no causalities amongst this group of soldiers from the Parachute Regiment.

USS Mobile :: Brian Barron :: 0916GMT

It's a bit of a roaring sea out here in the Gulf at the moment and the ship is tilting acutely at times. There is also a rolling fog now which will hinder flying from this and the other carriers around me.

The Iraqi navy, in the sense of a real navy, no longer exists. Under sanctions it was never allowed to build itself up. They did build up about 100 hyper speedboats which have operated from ports like Umm Qasr.

It is understood that the crews of these speedboats are missing and that coalition vessels have to be alert to suicide attacks in the waters off the Al Faw peninsula.

Ruwaishid, Jordan - Iraq border :: Martin Asser :: 0859GMT

There is a terrific sandstorm at the moment and I can only see a few metres in front of me. There are about 100 tents here, these are the ones that are still standing. The aid workers are taking tents down because the wind is so strong, the canvas is tearing.

Every so often the wind gets under a tent and people rush to weigh it down with gravel, and push the tent pegs back into the ground. If any of the kids come out they are hustled back into the tents by the air workers, because they don't want them to get cold and sick.

The aid workers here have been up all night trying to keep the tents upright. The wind is absolutely freezing and there is sand in our mouths. At one point my camera froze up and I had to warm it up in the jeep.

There are 186 people in the refugee camp and another three have been taken to hospital. They are mainly Somalis, a few Eritreans and Djiboutians. who are unwilling to go to Somalia so they are trying to get to a third country, Jordan.

In humanitarian terms this is the calm before the storm. The Red Crescent are expecting perhaps thousands of refugees from Iraq if there is fighting in the cities.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 0851GMT

I can see the television building about 200 meters behind where I am standing now and the white smoke is still billowing from there, following the bombing last night.

Service was only off air for about 20 minutes before it came back on, not as good a picture, but back on air.

The leadership realises how important it is to keep the TV network broadcasting, and how important it is for him to be visible and to be seen to be still in charge.

There was clearly a plan laid to keep this on air.

Members of the government are looking astonishing confident and relaxed at the moment considering there is a quarter of a million coalition troops knocking on their door.

We are seeing a lot more preparations around the city, an increase in sandbags on the street and a lot more military personnel are visible.

Doha, Qatar :: Peter Hunt :: 0832GMT

On the seventh day the coalition forces are meeting pockets of resistance as they move northwards.

A fierce fire fight was reported near Najaf overnight and Nasiriyah is being described currently, as a danger zone.

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 0815GMT

The bombing campaign is now targeting the Republican Guard in the battle from Baghdad. Iraqi television which was bombed repeatedly throughout the night is on air, clearly from a backup operation, as smoke billows from the TV buildings.

There is the usual mixture of patriotic songs and pictures of Saddam, with announcements from presenters in military uniform, currently on air.

I have seen fairly amateurish preparations being made within the city of Baghdad, by what looks like civilians as opposed to military personnel.

We know little of what has been going on outside Baghdad in terms of the bombing, whereas the bombing within Baghdad has been dramatic. Government and presidential buildings have been targeted. The vast civilian areas of Baghdad have been relatively untouched.

Doha, Qatar :: Jonathan Marcus :: 0801GMT

Re-fit, re-fuel and re-arm seems to have been the principle activity of US forces over the past few hours. The furious sandstorms have had a significant effect on military operations. Not only have they hampered helicopter flights, probably delaying the advance towards Baghdad, but they've also compounded the problems posed by this rapid advance.

Supply convoys have had to struggle forward in the blinding sand. This re-supply is essential, as troops from the Third US Infantry Division prepare for a major battle with the Republican Guard's Medina Division that's blocking its path towards Baghdad.

Northern Iraq :: John Simpson :: 0754GMT

I think there is quite a lot of frustration here amongst the Kurds, they know what it is like to live under the Saddam regime.

The one thing that is absolutely clear is that Saddam is still going and he is still in control of the system in Iraq. The coalition forces have done absolutely nothing about that.

People are frustrated that the whole structure of power, which stops people coming out on the streets to protest, is still in place.

Northern Kuwait :: Kylie Morris :: 0726GMT

Details are still scarce from Basra, there is some evidence emerging of some kind of uprising in Basra. There are reports of irregular fighters fleeing the city, but we are not sure how many.

Southern Iraq :: Jeremy Cooke :: 0717GMT

The British parachute regiment have had their first taste of combat in horrendous conditions. Despite a sandstorm which gave way to thunder, lightning and torrential rain, a fighting patrol pushed forward in total darkness, well into Iraqi-held territory.

Troops on foot were supported by light vehicles. Their task to destroy an Iraqi forward observation post.

One Iraqi was killed and five were taken as PoW's. There were no causalities on the British side.

Kuwait City :: Allan Little :: 0713GMT

The Ba'ath party officials will be watching to see what is happening in Basra very carefully. They will fear a repeat from the last Gulf War when an uprising in Basra left Ba'ath party officials dead, killed by ordinary Iraqis in the city.

There is great pressure on the coalition forces to get it right in Basra this time.

Northern Kuwait :: Hilary Andersson :: 0707GMT

The latest reports from the British military spokesman is that the British army unit outside the city are taking on and exchanging fire with Iraqi paramilitaries and regular troops. They say they are fleeing the city but we are not able to verify this.

Overnight there were air strikes on Basra city centre, in particular the headquarters of the Ba'ath party.

The troops are not yet in the city but are very close to it on the western side. With the British commitment to get aid into the city it is hard to see how they can do that without sending troops into the city.

Nasiriyah, Iraq :: Andrew North :: 0658GMT

The US marine force say it is continuing to come under sporadic attacks in Nasiriya. For the fourth straight day fighting continues in the town but it is not as severe as earlier in the week, but potentially as lethal.

Iraqi forces are sniping from the cover of buildings or vegetation, and using civilian vehicles to get around. It means that even in areas around the bridge over the River Euphrates, at the southern edge of town, US forces are not totally safe. They have to remain on constant alert.

A 30,000 strong force has passed through the town so far but Nasiriya will continue to be a thorn in the side of the US military even as its forces advance towards Baghdad.

Washington, D.C. :: Rob Watson :: 0640GMT

President Bush travels to the headquarters of Central Command in Florida later today to rally the troops before heading back to Washington for talks with the (British) prime minister Tony Blair

President Bush is being portrayed as a man at peace with himself and the momentous decisions before him. That at any rate is the picture being presented by this most image-conscious White House, anxious to stress this is a president firm in his beliefs, calm and resolute. The president himself has made few public appearances since the war began.

White house officials say the president, unlike many Americans, isn't watching the war frame by frame on television, and that he's leaving the running of the campaign to the generals.

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 0602GMT

Iraqi TV is off air this morning, so is the rival channel owned by Saddam Hussein's son, Uday.

Their normal breakfast diet of patriotic songs and pictures of Saddam Hussein has been replaced by wavy lines and static. It took the allies several tries to silence the broadcasts on Tuesday night.

Programmes stopped at least twice, then resumed from relief transmitters.

Washington DC :: Ian Pannell :: 0427GMT

The Pentagon is confirming that Iraqi state television has been knocked off their air and that that was the target. They deny that the so-called e-bomb or microwave bomb was used.

The purpose of the operation was to counter command and control abilities of the Iraqi regime and also to deal with propaganda and the disinformation campaign of Baghdad.

At the moment, it is still too early to say how successful or otherwise the bombing campaign was other than the fact that the Iraqi state television is off air and the damage assessment continues.

Washington DC :: Justin Webb :: 0300GMT

The Bush administration has now relented on the issue of reconstruction work in Iraq. The first round of contracts was offered only to US companies, but after talks between US and British officials, the US Government now says future contracts will be shared with Britain and possibly other nations.

A much more difficult issue for the president and the prime minister to agree on is the future role of the United Nations in Iraq. Mr Blair said on Tuesday that the UN should be involved at an early stage, a view shared by US Secretary of State Colin Powell.

But other Bush advisors are unwilling to co-operate with an organisation they see as tainted by its failure to stand up to Saddam Hussein, and intend to press the president to go ahead with plans for an interim administration under US control.

They want the UN to be involved in reconstruction work, but not in government, nor do they want what one official called "a bloated inefficient UN peacekeeping force".

Qatar :: Peter Hunt :: 0050GMT

This conflict is now unfolding on many different fronts in a deliberate attempt to overwhelm Saddam Hussein's regime, as US heavy armour and troops head to Baghdad from three directions.

Any weakening of those forces loyal to the Iraqi leader would make the coalition's task easier, and as the US pushes north, the British are confronting the problems left behind in the south.

A popular sustained uprising in Basra, if true, would be a significant development for the coalition, as it would enable them to bring humanitarian aid into southern Iraq and they could portray themselves as liberators, not occupiers.

And if Basra was to fall, what message would that send to Baghdad?

US officials have said they have now reached the doorstep of the capital. It cannot be long before they try to enter.

New York :: Susannah Price :: 0005GMT

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has said that the US and its allies will have to provide humanitarian assistance to Iraq until security conditions improve there. He warned that the UN could only give limited help until their staff was able to return to Iraq.

One of the most pressing issues is the future of the oil for food programme, previously partly administered by the Iraqi Government which fed much of the population. The Security Council has failed to agree on the scope of a draft resolution needed to hand control of the programme to the secretary general.

There is also likely to be disagreement among Security Council members about the role of the UN in administrating post-war Iraq. These issues are all likely to be debated on Wednesday's open meeting of the Security Council at which all UN member states can speak.

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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