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Last Updated:  Saturday, 29 March, 2003, 23:30 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.

Saturday, 29 March

Most recent postings are at the top.

Washington D.C. :: Peter Greste :: 2325GMT

Most recent opinion polls suggest President Bush needn't feel concerned about a lack of popular support.

A poll published in the Washington Post found 74% of Americans support the war - that's up slightly from 72% a week ago.

But the most revealing statistic is the number of people who now think there will be a significant number of additional US casualties - 82% now expect it. That's a massive jump from 54% last week. And still, support for the war is strong.

Analysts believe that much of the willingness to accept casualties comes from the experience of 11 September. Americans now seem to understand more than ever before that this war is personal and that they're going to have to get their hands bloodied.


Pentagon, Washington D.C. :: Nick Childs :: 2315GMT

This suicide attack is clearly of great concern to the US military, although Pentagon officials insist behind the scenes that this was one tactic that they had anticipated.

The concern is that it's difficult to defend against. At a Pentagon briefing, Major-General Stanley McChrystal said such an attack looks and feels like terrorism, as he put it.

The general said there might have to be adjustments to US tactics and procedures to make sure that places like checkpoints aren't vulnerable.

The official Pentagon line remains that the operation is going according to plan. Still, the US military seems in no hurry to take on the Republican Guard divisions around Baghdad on the ground. Instead it's continuing to pound them from the air.


Downing Street :: Guto Harri :: 2230GMT

A furious outburst in a Sunday newspaper by former UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, saying there is no more brutal form of war than a siege.

He says this war is unnecessary and Tony Blair should bring the troops back.

But there is some consolation for the government. Some Sunday opinion polls say public opinion is moving in his favour, but it is a very delicate balance.


Pentagon, Washington D.C. :: Nick Childs :: 1952GMT

The Pentagon says that there are now over 290,000 US-led forces in the Gulf, more than a third of them in Iraqi itself. And it says there are signs of the Republican Guard division, south of Baghdad, manoeuvring to try to avoid attack.

The key question is how much damage the US military wants to inflict on the Republican Guard from the air before they launch major ground operations against them.


London :: Guto Harri :: 1924GMT

Downing Street has questioned Iraqi claims that recent explosions which have killed large numbers of civilians in Iraq were caused by coalition forces attacks. The PM's spokesman has suggested that the explosions might have been the result of malfunctioning Iraqi missiles.

The claim followed a briefing to Tony Blair by intelligence chiefs earlier today.

Mr Blair was told that Saddam Hussein has sacked the commander of Iraqi air defences, his own cousin, Musahim Saab al Tikriti, because of the poor performance.

British intelligence suggest that a large number of surface-to-air missiles have been malfunctioning, and that many have failed to hit their targets and fallen back on Baghdad.

The spokesman also claimed that the scenes of explosions are "sanitised" before western journalists are taken there and that Iraqi civil defence staff have been ordered to clear up any fragments of Iraqi weaponry that falls on civilian areas.


Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 1919GMT

In the last five minutes we've had the most enormous explosion in the city centre. The hotel shook and even the furniture shook. That was preceded by the noise of an aircraft low overhead.

The explosion was close to the centre but we haven't been able to see yet what the target was for this bombing.


Central Iraq :: Gavin Hewitt :: 1910GMT

After the vehicle suicide attack in Najaf, the news came back to those of us on that highway almost immediately and it was listened to with great attention.

This now means that every civilian vehicle has to be viewed as a potential attacker. This is not something the forces here thought they would have to deal with in this war.

They didn't expect the level of harassment they are experiencing, nor did they expect the Fedayeen to fight so hard. They certainly didn't expect this kind of campaign with its hit and run tactics.


Baghdad :: Rageh Omaar :: 1904GMT

This city has not been spared today. Republican Guard positions have been repeatedly bombarded and as night fell residents made their way home, expecting more bombings tonight.

Today I visited the hospital where victims from last night's bombing in the city were being treated.

One man sat with his injured daughter. He was angry at what had been done to them.

"We have to take revenge for this, I am prepared to go to America and blow myself up, we will kill their children as they have killed ours," he told me.


Washington, D.C. :: Peter Greste :: 1831GMT

The mood here in the US capital is grim but more determined than ever before, the reality of the conflict is settling in.

The authorities here seem to have gone out of their way today to emphasis who are the good guys and who are the bad guys in this conflict. This is a change in tactics in the PR war.


Caversham, UK :: John Andrew :: 1807GMT

I'm at the BBC's monitoring centre in Caversham. Staff here monitor foreign media reports from around the world, including Iraq.

It appears that despite the heavy bombing of Baghdad, including the main TV station, the Iraqis are still managing to broadcast state-controlled TV and radio, albeit intermittently.

Their satellite station, Space Channel, was back on the air today with its usual mix of patriotic song and war footage.

It's believed that in recent years, the Iraqis have invested heavily in an extensive network of fibre-optic cables so that if one signal route is destroyed they can use another. Because they're made of glass, the cables are immune to the electronic bombs which destroy wire circuits.

Many Iraqis depend on radio for their information, and they're the target of dozens of clandestine and opposition broadcasts.


Southern Iraq :: Tim Franks :: 1742GMT

The coalition forces say they're hitting targets in Basra further and harder than ever before.

In Safwan, where I was earlier today, people say that they're desperate for water. Their preoccupation isn't war, it's the fact that they haven't got enough to drink.

And that's why people have poured out of their houses, carrying metal buckets, plastic urns, anything that they can to get a supply of water from the black hosepipe that's issuing out of the back of a rusty white tanker.

The message is repeated over and over by people here. We didn't want war, we didn't want the disruption to our lives they tell us.

That's not to say these people in the south of Iraq have any loyalty to Saddam Hussein, most appear not to, but the turbulence of war is, at the moment, swamping any longer-term hopes.


Paris :: Hugh Schofield :: 1723GMT

The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and the French President, Jacques Chirac, have held a telephone conversation to discuss the war in Iraq and its aftermath.

It's the first time the two men have spoken since the outbreak of hostilities. Relations between the two countries are at a historic low because of their differing views on the legitimacy of the US-led attack on Iraq, but both sides have an interest in starting to patch up their rift.


Nasiriya :: Andrew North :: 1657GMT

US marines are awaiting American experts to assess equipment found near Nasiriya earlier today.

The find was made at an Iraqi army base which had been bombed over the last couple of days.

Marines who secured the compound said they were surprised at what they found. There were large amounts of ammunition of all kinds, enough to supply a force for weeks.

In another part of the complex they found chemical protection suits and gas masks, and what they believe to be part of a chemical decontamination chamber.

They are not jumping to any conclusions and are waiting on the experts to advise.

This is the second major find of ammunition in Nasiriya this week.

I have been up on the front line today in the urban area. Inside the town there are civilians walking around as the marines try to detect snipers.


Kuwait :: Duncan Kennedy :: 1632GMT

There was an air raid siren here earlier this evening causing more jitters among the residents of Kuwait.

There doesn't appear to have been any attack.


Washington, D.C. :: Philippa Thomas :: 1628GMT

I think President Bush was all about justifying this war when he made his radio address earlier.

The people heard from their president how despicable the Saddam regime continued to be towards its own people.

This was President Bush trying to take the high moral ground for the coalition forces.


Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 1616GMT

The bombs seem to be getting heavier now.

Over the last half-hour we have heard low constant bombing of the Republican Guard positions on the edge of the city

The city is much emptier, the shops are mostly closed but the buildings here are mostly intact.

There is a problem that they might be running out of targets, they don't actually know where the government ministers actually are now. Some government buildings have been hit more than once.


London :: Pam O'Toole :: 1549GMT

Iraqi opposition figures are meeting in London to form a new bloc to represent secular, independent, pro-democratic forces in Iraq. The man regarded as the group's leader is Adnan Pachachi, who was an Iraqi foreign minister and ambassador to the UN in the 1960s.

Like most Iraqi opposition figures, Dr Pachachi is an exile currently living in Abu Dhabi. He's recently been courted by the American administration and the mainstream Iraqi opposition parties- to play a role in any post-Saddam Hussein Iraq.


Doha, Qatar :: Jonathan Marcus :: 1504GMT

US spokesmen at the Central Command headquarters in Qatar are insisting that there is no pause in the US operations on the battlefield. But on the ground, it does appear as though the full-scale advance of US forces has largely halted as they re-arm, re-supply and prepare to attack the Republican Guard divisions south of Baghdad.

The aim is to fix the positions of Iraqi units and to do as much damage to them as possible before the main US offensive begins.

But the Americans are continuing to have serious problems all along their lines of communication and it's clear that US commanders under-estimated the intensity of the resistance that these irregular Iraqi formations would offer.


Doha, Qatar :: Paul Adams :: 1436GMT

We have had a military briefing here a short time ago.

There was concern expressed about suicide attacks. We know that one on US troops near Najaf had claimed lives overnight.

We have been told that the attacks on US forces through the south of Iraq are decreasing in their intensity and not increasing.

We also know that supply lines are being given more protection using airborne units as they move forward through Iraq.

Things have been eased somewhat in the last 48 hours on the supply front with coalition forces lying in supplies to an air field near Nasiriya. That facility relieves pressure on the supply chain.


Central Iraq :: Gavin Hewitt :: 1430GMT

We are stalled on the highway at the moment but the biggest news today was when the radios crackled into life reporting an explosion further up the road at an American military checkpoint.

We were told a taxi stopped and when American soldiers approached it, it exploded and there were casualties.

There has been a lot of talk amongst the soldiers as this signifies something they didn't expect here - suicide bombers.

Already one commander has said to me: "If I see any civilian vehicle on this highway, either it gets off the highway or we shoot it off the highway." It does lend support to the feeling that these troops are a little bit embattled and that it's not going quite the way they imagined.


Northern Iraq :: Jim Muir :: 1412GMT

I'm in Chamchamal now. The front line here has actually moved about 20kms in the last few days.

At least two defensive lines have been abandoned along the way.

We drove about 18kms into the new no mans land and saw that the Iraqi forces had made an orderly withdrawal from this area. I would describe it as a repositioning and not a retreat.

They left calmly, and cleared up well behind themselves on departure.


Kuwait City :: Duncan Kennedy :: 1344GMT

There is an inquiry into how a missile was able to hit the city last night. Kuwait is a frontline state but this has come as a shock. Other missiles fired in recent days had been shot down, this one was undetected.

This missile was supposedly launched from al-Faw peninsula which we had been led to believe was secured by coalition forces.

The question now is where did these Iraqis who fired the missile come from. Did they make their way back into al-Faw, had they not been found in the initial coalition advance, were they a unit which had been lying low, that's what people want to know now.


Washington D.C. :: Philippa Thomas :: 1333GMT

President Bush is to make an address to the nation in two hours' time in his weekly radio address.

People here are now being to think that this war may last a long time.


Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 1311GMT

The bombing of the capital is continuing. There was an enormous blast in city centre about an hour ago. Although the bombs are well spaced they sound to be getting larger.

You really can appreciate the difference, we know the coalition forces are dropping bigger bombs now than from earlier in the bombing campaign.

The bigger the weapon the more side effects, there is more blast and damage to surrounding buildings, increasing the risk of civilian causalities.

The Iraqis say 62 dead and 107 injured last night.


Near Najaf :: Gavin Hewitt :: 1300GMT

What we heard was that a bomb had exploded at an American checkpoint in Najaf. We were told initially that five US troops had died in the attack. Later we heard the number was probably three.

It has been difficult enough for forces here dealing with amongst other things sniper fire, but if they now have to deal with people driving bombs into checkpoints, that is a further headache for commanders.


Doha, Qatar :: Jonathan Marcus :: 1256GMT

A spokesman for the US Central Command headquarters in Qatar says they have no further information yet as to the cause of an explosion in a Baghdad market where the Iraqi authorities say at least 58 people were killed in a blast yesterday evening. Central Command insists that its targeting process remains deliberate, sophisticated and precise.


RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire :: Bob Sinkinson :: 1247GMT

It was just after midday when the transport aircraft carrying the coffins of the 10 dead servicemen landed at the airbase. It taxied slowly to the main building where families were patiently waiting.

The military band plays a solemn lament as the coffins are taken one by one from the aircraft.

The Duke of York and the defence secretary are both here.

The bodies of the dead men will be released to their families this afternoon for private burials. Each family has been offered a funeral with full military honours.


Kuwait City :: Valerie Jones :: 1227GMT

They are working to clear up the damage here. The impact of the blast stretched several hundred yards through a shopping centre. Crowds of Kuwait residents are coming to see the damage for themselves. They are more anxious now.


Southern Iraq :: Tim Franks :: 1133GMT

The Iraqi people we've seen today seem cautious and weary.

One man told us that while he despised his government, the people here were just too scared to rise up.

A woman nearby collapsed in grief as she related how her 35-year-old son had been sent mad by the bombing. He'd wandered off and she hadn't seen him for days.

The hoped-for scenes of jubilant and grateful Iraqi people are yet to appear.


Northern Iraq :: Stuart Hughes :: 1028GMT

I'm six kilometres east of the Kirkuk front line. Until two days ago this spot was deep inside Iraqi Government territory but after Saddam Hussein's forces peeled back to defend Kirkuk we've been able to drive 15km behind the old front line.

We've passed deserted villages many of them daubed with anti-American and pro-Saddam Hussein slogans.

A few moments ago heavy artillery shells landed just metres from us as Iraqi forces targeted a petrol station they were forced to abandon.

We've now retreated to relative safety.


Kuwait City :: Valerie Jones :: 0845GMT

I'm here looking at where an Iraqi missile struck a small jetty that sticks out into the sea. The missile hit a few metres offshore, but the impact of the blast has stretched more than a hundred metres back into a cinema and shopping centre.

There's been no serious damage here, but the windows and doors have been shattered and ceilings have been brought down. There's a diving team from the Kuwaiti ministry of interior are in the water at the moment; they're presumably trying to find pieces of the missile to identify it.

There's also a crowd of Kuwaiti City residents that's gathered here, just to see the damage for themselves.

No-one was seriously hurt in this attack, but the missile was not picked up by radar or the Patriot defence batteries, so the closeness of this missile attack in Kuwait City is bound to raise anxiety.


Baghdad :: Rageh Omaar :: 0640GMT

The details of what happened in the marketplace both from the coalition spokespeople and the Iraqi Government is going to go backward and forward, claims and counterclaims.

The really essential part in terms of the political impact is the visceral images we have just seen being beamed around the world, particularly the Arab world.

Whatever caused it people who should be awaiting liberation are incrementally being affected as victims in this war and that is an inescapable fact.

The Iraqi Government's message to its own people is "they are coming, they don't care about civilian casualties, they are targeting civilian areas".

When you are directly affected by it, whatever the reasons, at the very least you begin to be very afraid about this much-trumpeted, much-feared battle for Baghdad.


Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 0600GMT

The bombing does seem to be getting heavier. We've had new territory for the air campaign because we had multiple attacks on the information ministry which is where the BBC's office is.

The top floors of the information ministry, which is a building of about 11 or 12 storeys, have been damaged. The equipment is strewn over the floor in several media organisations' offices.

Aerials are broken. It's an attack on the journalists here.

It's been expected for a long time - we've taken not to going to the information ministry at night because we believed it may be attacked.

Even so I think it does take the targeting to a new phase.


Qatar :: Peter Hunt :: 0200GMT

While American officials here at Central Command are unwilling at the moment to comment on Iraqi allegations it was an American or British missile which killed and injured civilians in a Baghdad marketplace on Friday, there are aspects of their air campaign which they do want to talk about.

In southern Iraq they received intelligence that around 200 members of Saddam Hussein's regime were meeting.

Two F-15 jets dropped laser guided bombs, which destroyed the two-storey building and, it's assumed, killed most, if not all, the occupants.

But according to a spokesman, a nearby church was left untouched.

And in an attempt to convince people they do take care over what they target, an official said a delayed fuse was used to ensure the missiles had penetrated the structure before exploding and so reducing the impact of the blast on nearby buildings.


Kuwait City :: James Shaw :: 0150GMT

An Iraqi missile has landed in Kuwait City damaging a shopping centre on the seafront. It was not detected by the city's missile defences and the impact woke many residents with a loud explosion which was heard throughout the city centre.

The missile came down close to a cinema on the shoreline of the Gulf and caused superficial damage to the building and nearby pier.

Hundreds of people woken by the blast came to inspect the damage.

The Kuwaiti Information Minister, Mohammed al-Sabah, said he believed the strike would not dent the morale of the people of Kuwait and the government was doing everything it could to protect the population.

The city has been on high alert since the start of the conflict in neighbouring Iraq.


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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