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Last Updated:  Sunday, 30 March, 2003, 23:47 GMT 00:47 UK
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.

Sunday, 30 March

Most recent postings are at the top.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 2306GMT

The whole international press corps has relocated from the ministry of information to the Hotel Palestine because the ministry has been hit once and we believe possibly over the next few hours it will be hit again.

From the Hotel Palestine there are brilliant views over most of the city. We have been instructed by the Iraqi authorities not to place television cameras or radio positions overlooking the river on the front of the hotel because they fear that what we say live on air and what is seen live on air might be of assistance to targeters in Doha or in the Pentagon or elsewhere.

This points to the fact that this is a war different from all previous wars in one respect in that it is taking place in real time - there are live cameras all over the capital.

It may be that what is seen on those live pictures helps in the bomb-damage assessment made by military planners and certainly the Iraqis fear if a building is not seen to be flattened live on television in one air raid it will pretty soon invite a follow-up strike from missiles or bombers in an attempt to flatten it in a second air raid.


Doha :: Nicholas Witchell :: 2250GMT

It is important that the coalition starts to demonstrate that it is able to overcome the Iraqi resistance in towns such as [Najaf], in towns such Basra where the British forces are fighting.

I think that they are anxious to demonstrate that 11 days into this campaign they are starting to suppress the Iraqi resistance as they prepare of course for the most important challenge that they face which is to move on to the battle for Baghdad.


Washington D.C. :: Nick Childs :: 2114GMT

The machine involved [in the latest deadly crash] was a UH-1 Huey, a medium transport helicopter which has been a workhorse in the US and other militaries around the world since the 1960s.

Even if this was an accident, it's the latest in a series of incidents involving helicopters that have plagued the US-led forces since the beginning of the conflict in Iraq.


Southern Iraq :: Kylie Morris :: 1848GMT

The people who I've spoken to who have left Basra have talked about people feeling very confused, saying they don't know what they want. They mightn't like Saddam Hussein very much, but neither do they really like the arrival of British and American forces, and they're very concerned about them overstaying their welcome.

Interestingly though, I did have a look today at some of the pamphlets which are being handed out by British forces. Apparently, one of them being distributed in Basra says "be patient, together we will win, and this time we wont abandon you".


Kirkuk :: Jim Muir :: 1827GMT

The city's been taking a very heavy pounding in the last 24 hours. I say the city, I mean of course the military targets that they're aiming at around it.

The Iraqis have left a whole string of defensive positions which were simply abandoned. But also, we found a very large military complex. The most interesting pair of buildings we found there side by side, were in fact the command positions for the chemical units of the Iraqi Fifth Infantry Division.

That was interesting to see. We've always known that the Iraqi army had chemical units built into it's system. That's not to say they're carrying chemical weapons with them, and ready to use them.


Washington D.C. :: Peter Greste :: 1711GMT

The debate continues about the so-called "Rumsfeld Doctrine". His plans for a smaller, lighter, swifter and more high-tech force than we've seen in the past.

There are people who are saying this is what underpinned the war strategy and this is what's come unstuck in the deserts of Iraq.

The administration here is insisting that everything is going to plan. But clearly if there is a loss of confidence, if things don't go as we were led to believe before this war, then I think there will be a lot of pressure on Mr Rumsfeld.


Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 1650GMT

For the residents of Baghdad, it's been another day of air raid sirens.

The Iraqis say they expect to be encircled in Baghdad within the week. We may soon know if there is to be a quick end to this war. Or if there is to be a long siege, with only the prospect of difficult and dangerous street fighting to end it.


Southern Iraq :: Tim Franks :: 1640GMT

British soldiers say that it's now a daily occurrence. Early in the morning up to two thousand people try to leave Iraq's second city, Basra. As they cross the bridges, the terror begins.

We're not allowed into Basra. So it's difficult to judge whether these people are being targeted by Iraqi militia keen to pen them into the city, or whether they are simply caught in the crossfire.


Qatar :: Michael Voss :: 1600GMT

The Coalition commander General Tommy Franks remains upbeat. He pointed out that coalition forces had secured the southern oilfields and the port of Umm Qasr, and that troops are closing in on Baghdad.

General Franks also denied reports that he wanted more time and more troops before launching the war, but was overruled by Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

There was evidence he said, that Iraq was preparing to destroy the oilfields, but were not quite in the position to do it. Hence the need to move quickly.


Southern Iraq :: Andrew North :: 1410GMT

US forces have in some cases been able to work with some of the local residents of Nasariyah. They've been looking at reopening a gas production facility in the town. But it's still not clear if that's enough to turn the tide of this resistance.

From my position I can't exactly say what the bulk of the civilian population are saying, because it's difficult for me to get access to them. But they're essentially caught in-between. You see them going about their daily lives as much as they can.


Turkish/Iraqi border :: Jonny Dymond :: 1334GMT

Unicef describes the plight of children in northern Iraq as "precarious". Many families in the Kurdish-controlled area are entirely dependant on United Nations' agencies for food and medicines. Monthly deliveries, organised under the oil-for-food programme, kept them going.

But since the war, nothing has gone through. Truck drivers have been unwilling to deliver into an area deemed unsafe and insurance companies wouldn't provide cover

These first two trucks are a token delivery. Unicef wanted to see whether there would be problems at the Turkish border. But, after a slight delay, the trucks have passed through. A 40-truck convoy will now start loading, and Unicef hopes it will pass through into northern Iraq on Wednesday.


Southern Iraq :: Andrew Harding :: 1259GMT

Latest reports from the Royal Marines is that some 30 prisoners of war have been captured during the fighting on the south-east approaches to Basra.

Some 30 Iraqi dead are also reported from the fighting. This replaces earlier reports about hundreds of prisoners of war.


Tehran :: Miranda Eeles :: 1212GMT

Iran's Foreign Minister Mr Kharrazi, compared what was happening in Iraq with events in Palestine. Referring to the suicide bomber which killed four US soldiers yesterday, he said the Americans totally miscalculated the reaction of the Iraqi people. Instead of being welcoming, he said they were now resisting the invading force with suicide attacks.

He also denied claims made by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Friday, that Iran was meddling in the war, by allowing members of an Iraqi opposition group, the Badr Brigade, to cross the border.

Iran has showed restraint so far in the attack on its neighbour. It's not reacted militarily to stray missiles into its territory. It has however, consistently condemned the US-led attack, preferring instead to solve the crisis through diplomatic channels.


Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 1149GMT

Every so often from just over the horizon, comes the long low rumble of B-52's dropping their massive payloads on the Republican Guard south of Baghdad. We feel the vibrations some 20-30 miles away.

There's also the occasional thump of a laser-guided bomb in Baghdad itself.

The Iraqis are claiming some successes, saying they've shot down two US helicopters over the past 24 hours, killing the pilots. State TV has been showing pictures of what it says is one of the helicopters, an Apache. The camera zooms in unsteadily on one of its missiles. The metal plate says "Made in the US".

We can't independently verify that these pictures were shot today or yesterday. What they do show is that despite American efforts, Iraqi TV remains defiantly on-air.


Kirkuk, Northern Iraq :: Jim Muir :: 1117GMT

Well I'm sitting on a hilltop looking down onto Kirkuk from the east. It's now just about 10 kilometres to the edge of the city from here, following a dramatic withdrawal of Iraqi troops from about 20 kilometres of rolling hills which now lie behind me.

From here you can see a number of fires burning; some of them are gas being flared off from some of the oilfields around the city, but others were started by a series of bomb attacks by US jets just a short time ago and during the night.

On this front the Iraqi forces have fallen back on a defensive line right on the city's eastern outskirts and they've made similar pullbacks on other fronts to the north and north-west. They're obviously preparing to defend the city and the oilfields against a coalition northern front, but at the moment there's no sign of that materialising imminently.

There are no coalition forces massed in the area and the Kurdish peshmerga guerrillas, who manned the old front-line 20 kilometres back, have not moved forward in strength. They say their orders so far are to stay and defend their own area.


South of Baghdad :: David Willis :: 1111GMT

We're still here in the desert while supplies catch up with us. Even while we wait, there've been skirmishes with what we think are Iraqi fighters in the distance.

There's an impetus now to move on, to not lose the momentum, and as far as the men are concerned, that's very much the case.


Central Iraq :: Gavin Hewitt :: 1026GMT

There is much talk of a possible pause in the advance but this doesn't look the case from where we are.

There continues to be huge movements of logistics and armour towards the south of Baghdad and overhead we can hear American aircraft going in to attack the Republican Guard positions which are not too far from where we are now.

The impression we're getting here is that there is a steady build-up towards obviously what will be the decisive encounter of this war.


Northern Iraq :: Jim Muir :: 0954GMT

We've had quite a lot of heavy American bombing in Kirkuk this morning.

They've been hitting military posts around the oil installations to the North of the city. We can see fires burning, some of which have been set alight in the last hour or so by this latest bombing.

The line on this front has moved dramatically westward in the last few days. We've just been through 20 kilometres of hilly terrain which was in Iraqi army hands.

They have pulled back and are simply defending the eastern approaches to the city itself.


Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 0936BST

For the past half an hour it has been quiet here but this morning there were intermittent air strikes both on the far edge of Baghdad and also more strikes on the centre of the city.

What we're seeing too over the past couple of days is things like telephone exchanges being hit.

Clearly the coalition think these have dual use, or military use, but hitting the telephone exchanges will not do anything to bring the civilian population on side.

The clear message from the coalition to the Iraqi people is: "You are not the enemy. We want regime change and are not here to harm the Iraqi people".

But if you start plunging the city into darkness, cutting off the water, bringing down the telephone exchanges and generally making life difficult for people, then I think the nature of the struggle will start to change.


Northern Iraq :: John Simpson :: 0918BST

Seems to me that there's a real danger with things like suicide bombs and attacks by people in civilian clothes, that the coalition forces will start to identify slowly, without even meaning to, everybody that comes close as a potential enemy.

Troops are going to have to be very disciplined in their behaviour.


Southern Iraq :: Andrew Harding :: 0905GMT

British troops launched a new assault on the south-eastern outskirts of Basra just before first light.

Royal Marine commandos are attempting to root out Iraqi positions in the palm groves along the edge of the Shatt al-Arab waterway.

British tanks and artillery have been pounding Iraqi armour and trying to prevent reinforcements arriving from Basra itself.

There are reports that several hundred Iraqi soldiers have already been taken prisoner.


Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 0820GMT

The residents of Baghdad are getting used to the constant thump of explosives being dropped on their city. There's been more bombing during daylight over the past few hours.

There is no confirmation from here of the British Government's statement that the head of Baghdad's air defences has been sacked because Iraq's own missiles are falling on the capital.

That is the coalition's explanation for the two devastating explosions in civilian areas in recent days.


Southern Iraq :: Hilary Andersson :: 0520GMT

This development of suicide bombs and the threat from the Iraqis that its now going to be a pattern of the Iraqi fighting will be a concern.

The military leaders are telling us this morning that they do have ways of dealing with this, that they will establish new types of roadblocks where they will be asked to get out of their cars quite a long distance away from any military personnel.

There are standard military procedures which are to stop the cars at a big distance from military personnel, perhaps using loud speakers, ask the Iraqi people inside their vehicle to step away from their cars with their hands up and then establish whether the person himself or the vehicle is armed and then at that point move in on them and check the equipment thoroughly.


Doha, Qatar :: Michael Voss :: 0510GMT

I think what has happened is that coalition commanders, whatever they say, have realised that they are facing much tougher resistance than expected and that they are fighting an unconventional war. I think that the suicide bombing has shocked them to a degree.

So there is a lot of tactical rethinking going on and for the next few days there is fighting on the ground but I think a lot of it will take place from the air and, interestingly, for the very first time, they are now flying sorties out of captured airfields in Iraq itself.


Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 0505GMT

Once again overnight, there were times when I was woken up by a continual thump, thump, thump [of air strikes]. It just seemed to be coming every few seconds. Looking out of my window this morning, it seems that the usual government ministries were blackened.

If you go up to the 20th floor of our hotel you see a most remarkable skyline of great plumes of black smoke from the oil-filled trenches being sent up into the air, the whole sky going a very dark, leaden colour which you never see in the Middle East.

If you drive out to the outskirts of Baghdad you can see the oil tankers going up and down pouring oil onto bundles of firewood into big trenches gouged between the gaps on the dual carriageways and sending up these amazing fires. Whether it does any good or not, I'm not sure.


Washington D.C. :: Katty Kay :: 0115GMT

The risk for Donald Rumsfeld - what makes him slightly unusual - is that he has been intimately involved with the planning of this war strategy. Remember, he's a civilian and often secretaries of defence don't get as involved as Donald Rumsfeld has done.

So it's quite unusual the degree to which he has sat down with the war commanders, with the officers and said "This is the way I want this to go, this is my plan".

This is very much known as Rumsfeld's plan - the idea of having fewer troops on the ground and leaving the war, the chance of success, more to drones, to unmanned vehicles, to high-technology, to air superiority and not having to have so many troops on the ground.

This is the Rumsfeld doctrine and if it doesn't work, if in the long run it is found they did need more troops, that they had miscalculated, then yes, he is going to come in for some criticism for that.


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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