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Last Updated:  Thursday, 3 April, 2003, 23:32 GMT 00:32 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.

Most recent postings are at the top.

Thursday, 3 April

Washington, D. C. :: Nick Childs :: 2235GMT

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says there is no chance of any peace deal that would allow the leadership of Saddam Hussein to remain.

He has made a new appeal to Iraqi soldiers to lay down their weapons and turn against the leadership in Baghdad.

He gave a new warning that the toughest fighting in the conflict.

With US forces now on the outskirts of Baghdad, General Richard Myers gave an intriguing insight as to how the Americans might approach the city itself.

He suggested that they could essentially try to isolate whatever is left of the leadership and make it increasingly irrelevant.

He cautioned against the traditional image of a siege, but spoke of US forces using patience in dealing with Baghdad.

Baghdad :: Rageh Omaar :: 2135GMT

The Iraqis are not conceding that the airport has fallen but they're certainly acknowledging that there are some battles and engagements on the perimetre of the airport.

They're claiming they've blown up some tanks and armoured personnel carriers.

Baghdad :: Rageh Omaar :: 2109GMT

The taking of Baghdad airport would be a very significant development in this war - US soldiers barely 12 kilometres from where I am now.

I was there five hours ago and recent reports of very little military activity at the airport was exactly what I saw then.

On the road out, there were hardly any Iraqi soldiers But the question is - what do the American do next and what impact will it have on the city?

Many ordinary Iraqis are spending the evening huddled with their loved ones listening for news to see what happens next.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 2052GMT

Baghdad is in darkness now, the electricity cut off, the population gathered around candlelight and wondering what is the meaning of the huge artillery barrage which sounded on the southwestern outskirts of the city a few hours earlier.

The Americans are said to have met with very little resistance at the airport and certainly a BBC team at the airport saw literally only a handful of Iraqi soldiers.

Where are the rest? They could be hiding somewhere outside Baghdad, waiting to strike back at the elongated and exposed coalition lines, or they could already be melting away back into the civilian population of the capital.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 2019GMT

When an artillery bombardment started up on the western edge of the city this evening, suburb by suburb the lights went out in Baghdad.

From here we don't know who's firing at who but reporters with the US military say it is an American attack on the airport. They say the airport is falling into American hands.

It's a pretty confused situation here in the heart of Baghdad with telephones and power now out. There is only the barest of information trickling back.

There is tonight a figure of 82 dead put out by one news agency. We have no way of confirming that.

All we can say is that there is military action on the outskirts of Baghdad. Who holds the airport we'll have to wait until morning to be sure.

Doha, Qatar :: Nicholas Witchell :: 2007GMT

There are reports from a Lebanon-based TV station talking about heavy casualties - dozens killed in the shelling of Baghdad airport.

Perhaps significantly, there is a blackout in Baghdad, not the action of coalition forces, Central Command says.

It would appear the Iraqis themselves have decided to black out the city in some kind of defensive measure.

Doha, Qatar :: Michael Voss :: 1947GMT

Reports from the field talk of artillery fire and tracer rounds lighting the night sky around Baghdad airport.

There is no confirmation from Central Command that Saddam International is under attack.

The priority here is to keep the Iraqis off-balance and guessing as to where the American forces will strike next.

Kuwait :: Ryan Dilley :: 1842GMT

An aid worker who has been into Iraq to assess what relief supplies are needed in the war torn country has told me the humanitarian effort in the area around Umm Qasr is a "shambles".

Patrick Nicholson of the UK charity Cafod has just returned from the port town and said the town is not under control. He described it like the Wild West.

Baghdad :: Rageh Omaar :: 1829GMT

Right now the city remains in darkness, the residents are in their homes, spending the night with light and power. The food they will have bought in will start to go off in their fridges.

People here in the Iraqi capital do listen to BBC World Service and BBC Arabic service radio and do know how close the coalition forces are to Baghdad.

I met four Iraqi government ministers today, including a senior spokesman for the Iraqi armed forces. The coalition forces may be knocking on the door but they continue as normal and remain confident.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 1817GMT

We have seen over the past hour repeated flashes in the sky on the edge of Baghdad.

There have been more air strikes, three large explosions shaking the ground beneath our feet.

Doha, Qatar :: Michael Voss :: 1810GMT

The coalition forces say they have not met the resistance they thought they would nearing Baghdad.

There have been running battles though, as thousands of additional troops have been moving forward into positions.

We don't know what the strength of the Republican Guard is at the moment and I don't think Central Command here know either.

It is very unclear and if they are dug in inside urban streets in Baghdad it will be difficult to know how many of there are of these fighters.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 1758GMT

The atmosphere in the capital can only be described as surreal. In the main market during the day, people were buying bananas from Jordan and in one section, budgerigars in brilliant blues and yellows were being sold to small children.

There was in other words a deceptive air of normality.

The people of this city have been told two things by their leadership. First, that the nearest American soldiers are still a hundred miles away. But secondly, that Baghdad will be encircled within the week. So scratch the surface and there is real fear.

We've seen no large movements of troops, or indeed of any major defensive preparations. It may be the government strategy for their best forces, the Republican Guards, to simply melt away into the civilian population, presenting an invisible target.

All these troops could still be outside the city waiting to ambush the American soldiers as they advance on the capital. Tonight there was a sustained artillery barrage seemingly from Iraqi positions on the southern outskirts of Baghdad, followed by a power cut which has plunged most of the city into darkness.

We don't know if that power cut was caused by more air strikes, or if the artillery is a signal, but the battle of Baghdad has indeed begun.

Southern Iraq :: Jeremy Cooke :: 1738GMT

This is a quite an odd period for the soldiers of the parachute regiment who I am with now, west of Basra.

Their fighting skills have not been used to best effect so far, according to the soldiers I've been talking to here.

Over the past couple of days some have been in the front line, fighting the Iraqis. Their mission is to protect the oilfields which will be so important to the future of Iraq.

3 Para are now back from the front line and everyone is trying to have a rest, although active patrolling is ongoing.

Both washing and sleeping are in pretty short supply at times. The terrain is sandy and dusty. It's a really hot area.

When we move to a new area the first thing we do is dig a hole, for civilians like me it has been a really hard test. Every time we stop we dig a hole we can dive into if shelling starts and to sleep in.

I can see the sky lit up now with anti-aircraft fire over Basra. Everyone realises they are not far from the frontline.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 1712GMT

The city is now in darkness. Over the past few minutes we have had a sustained barrage from the southern edges of Baghdad, we believe from the Iraqi side, outgoing fire.

I guess the people of Baghdad are wondering what is going on now.

We do not know for sure who is firing on who, or where the fighting is going on. It may only become clear tomorrow in daylight.

Baghdad :: Rageh Omaar :: 1708GMT

The Iraqis were trying to prove a point that these reports of the airport being seized were not true. That is why they took us out there to Saddam airport.

We didn't find anything that was out of place. We didn't see tanks or indeed any evidence that there had been any fighting or British and American soldiers in the airport. That's what they were trying to prove.

A power cut in Baghdad seems to be the result of coalition action but we are not sure.

There seems to have been a major artillery barrage which has consecutively taken out some power grids that provide electricity to Baghdad. A lot of the city is in darkness. This was about 8 minutes ago.

Kuwait City :: Ryan Dilley :: 1704GMT

A large crowd, approximately more than 2,000 people, has gathered in Kuwait City to show support for the US-led invasion of neighbouring Iraq.

Kuwaitis have been stung by criticism in newspapers across the Middle East that to back the war is an act of treachery against their fellow Arabs.

Despite the seriousness of the issue, the demonstration soon took on a party atmosphere with music and dancing.

Thursday is the start of the weekend in Kuwait. Some of those attending said they were letting off steam after the tensions of the past weeks.

There have been no Iraqi missiles fired towards the city for several days and local people are beginning to feel that the danger has passed.

Camp Lejeune, North Carolina :: Rob Watson :: 1648GMT

It was like a patriotic pop festival here, thousands of cheering marines and their families, President Bush, star performer and crowd pleaser.

His assessment of the war decidedly upbeat. In a clear reference to Baghdad, he said US marines had travelled hundreds of miles. He said now they would go the last two hundred yards.

Nassiriya :: Andrew North :: 1645GMT

The security situation in Nassiriya has deteriorated markedly since the removal over the past twenty four hours of many of the marines involved in the original fighting to take the city.

So there was no one to stop at least twenty armed men who descended on the main hospital this morning. They threatened staff before making off with equipment including computers and televisions and set light to hospital vehicles.

Many patients fled in terror straight afterwards.

Commanders have promised they will restore a marine guard at the complex. But even as they spoke, another man was shot dead by men attempting to steal his pick up truck. There are varying reports as to who's behind the violence and the widespread looting.

Whatever the case, this is in effect now a major peace keeping challenge, even before the war is over and one that US forces have to meet as they try to convince Iraqis that they're committed to the country's future.

Pentagon, Washington D.C. :: Nick Childs :: 1644GMT

As US forces edge closer to Baghdad, a senior defence official says that they're now into the second ring of defences around the city.

According to one senior Pentagon official, what US forces have done is push through the first ring of defences around Baghdad, as he put it, and they're now into the second ring.

A key objective appears to be the main airport. The US military says it's close. But in the Pentagon they're also saying that there are elements of perhaps four or five Iraqi regular divisions in that area. After the rapid advances of the last couple of days, the mood in the corridors of the Pentagon is confident, but cautious.

Pentagon officials were clearly stung by the criticism that the Iraq war plan was inadequate. Now, as one official put it, "We're into our stride." But there are also no illusions about how difficult the actual fight for Baghdad could be. According to officials, elements of the so called Special Republican Guard, among the forces most loyal to the leadership of Saddam Hussein, continue to disperse around the city.

Jordan Valley :: Martin Asser :: 1640GMT

I am returning to Jordan after two nights in Jerusalem and the West Bank, where I was canvassing Palestinian views on developments in the war on Iraq for BBC News Online.

On both sides of the River Jordan Arabs remain firmly behind the Iraqi armed forces defending the regime of Saddam Hussein, and they dismiss the latest advances by US troops towards Baghdad, saying the game is not over yet.

"In these days, the liar has become truthful, the honest man a criminal, the patriot is a terrorist and the traitor is a hero," my driver tells me, referring to how people here see things so differently to the mainstream American view.

It has been noticeably hotter today and down in the Jordan valley it is positively steaming - presumably the weather is warming up in Iraq too.

"You wait," the driver says with satisfaction. "The Americans and British are going to suffocate in the heat soon."

Central Iraq :: Gavin Hewitt :: 1620GMT

The Americans are continuing to build up their forces just south of Baghdad. They have got within 10 miles of the outside of Baghdad itself. Commanders have been in the vicinity of Saddam airport but have not decided to go in yet.

The last 36 hours has seen an enormous push forward involving both armour and all the logistical support needed for a whole division, the 3rd Infantry division to be effective.

That really is now pretty much in place. The forward parts of the unit are probably less than ten miles from the outskirts of the capital.

Southern Iraq :: Hilary Andersson :: 1604GMT

The British troops are in a very different position than the American troops. They have been given the south of the country to secure it.

They are sitting outside Basra and probing the city, they are doing alright. The mood amongst them is that yes this is a longer war than we expected but we can handle it.

They are feeling fairly confident and I think they know they are in for a long haul.

Aziziyah, Central Iraq :: David Willis :: 1600GMT

We have had some incoming fire today aimed at the US marines I am travelling with. But it was quite ruthlessly and swiftly dealt with.

What is clear is that the Republican Guard have not gone away.

We have encountered only good natured civilians, welcoming the advance of this large convoy. We have yet to encounter any bitterness along the way. It is mostly farmers we have met along the way.

Camp Lejeune, North Carolina :: Ian Pannell :: 1542GMT

President Bush and his wife Laura have arrived here to address US marines on this base.

President Bush is essentially preaching to the converted in terms of the audience here. There are 20,000 marines and their families all dressed up in their Sunday finery currently gathered waiting to hear their President.

There is also a nationwide audience for President Bush here too and it is a chance for him to get his message across again.

Aldershot, UK :: Carole Walker :: 1537GMT

There are approx 2,500 servicemen from Aldershot out in the Gulf in numerous roles at the moment. Some on the front line and some in support roles.

About 250 families crowded in here to meet the Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife today.

The families are concerned that they don't know where their loved ones are or when they will be coming home.

I think the overwhelming mood of the families was supportive. There were one or two dissenting voices here, one woman told me the war was stupid and she just wanted her husband home.

Doha, Qatar :: Nik Gowing :: 1534GMT

A military spokesman has told us here that US troops have reached the airport in Baghdad.

London :: Frank Gardner :: 1532GMT

Western intelligence sources say they have detected a small group of Saudi extremists trying to get into Iraq so that they can attack coalition forces there.

They say they believe the men are pretending to be aid workers and that they may be hoping to cross the border from Iran. The conflict in Iraq is deeply unpopular in the Arab world and Baghdad has claimed that thousands of Arab suicide bombers are now in the country.

This week, four groups of Islamist fighters were reported to have left their hideouts in Afghanistan to join Iraqi forces fighting coalition troops. They, too, are thought to be trying to enter from Iran.

Brussels :: Jon Leyne :: 1522GMT

Colin Powell has said that international organisations will have an important role to play in Iraq. But he also said the coalition, which means the US, has to play the leading role in deciding the way forward for Iraq.

Although everybody's trying to avoid a confrontation, these are some lines laid down for the future debate over this issue.

Speaking before Mr Powell, the French foreign minister Dominic de Villepin talked about the central role he thought the UN should play.

But I thought he was also trying to be conciliatory. He talked about the need for pragmatism, the need to look towards the future.

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 1513GMT

Within the last 90 minutes I've been at the airport. There is simply no truth in the claims that American troops are surrounding it.

We could drive up to it quite easily. The airport is under full Iraqi control.

There is normal civilian traffic on the road to the airport and the soldiers defending it looked pretty relaxed.

They certainly weren't in defensive positions. They were standing around casually on the side of the road.

Aziziyah, central Iraq :: David Willis :: 1442GMT

Ahead of us thick plumes of smoke fill the horizon, the smouldering remains, I'm told, of Iraqi tanks. Cobra helicopters fired on them and we later saw American tanks go tearing by.

Intermittent explosions could be heard up ahead and we have just encountered a line of people, emerging out of the dust ahead of us, who've been displaced by the fighting.

They appear to have grabbed all they could carry before leaving. The precise size and strength of the force ahead of us remains unclear.

But the Marines believe that rather than massing in open territory, where they would be vulnerable to air attack, the Republican Guard are holed-up in small towns and villages waiting to ambush advancing forces.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 1431GMT

I was out in one of the western suburbs of Baghdad a couple of hours ago and heard what sounded like explosions. I was told it was an Iraqi artillery piece firing. It didn't sound as if there was a battle going on.

We will see over the next few hours or by tomorrow whether there's going to be a battle for the airport.

Seizing it will be vitally important for the coalition. It would secure the western approaches to the city. It might be used to bring fresh troops and supplies in. It would also be a huge psychological blow.

The Iraqi authorities say the Americans are 100 kilometres away but had previously said they expected the city to be encircled with five to ten days. It looks like we're moving closer towards that point.

Brussels :: Bridget Kendall :: 1338GMT

The buzzword here is "re-emerging consensus" with emphasis on emerging. From Colin Powell's bilateral meeting, we can hear a loud chorus of those saying that the UN must play a central role.

And the US would certainly like UN endorsement for the post Iraq plans. But it's another thing to agree that a UN role should be central.

This is the area of disagreement. At the moment they are having a round-table meeting where all such views are being aired.

But the emerging consensus could put forward a UN central role which the Americans aren't yet ready to agree.

Doha, Qatar :: Jonathan Marcus :: 1323GMT

Clearly the US and British forces will want to take up significant positions around Baghdad. The airport would be an obvious type of installation to seize and then use. Quite what happens when they are around Baghdad is anybody's guess.

They don't really know what is going on inside the city, so they tell us. I would imagine they have a better idea than they are letting on. The internal dynamics of the Iraqi regime are going to come increasingly into play once Iraq's main military forces are defeated.

There's some anecdotal evidence of where all these Iraqi forces have disappeared to.

It's clear that some of them are turning themselves over to the Americans. But we just don't know about others.

It will be several hours yet before the whole position on the southern outskirts of the Iraqi capital clarifies itself.

Doha, Qatar :: Paul Adams :: 1225GMT

The Americans have been very keen today to trumpet the actions of their special forces.

We have been shown some very dramatic footage of special forces capturing a very strategic dam northwest of Baghdad several days ago.

Another special forces unit was shown going into one of Saddam Hussein's own presidential palaces about 150 miles northwest of Baghdad, last night.

Baghdad :: Rageh Omaar :: 1216GMT

The Iraqi Minister for Information acknowledged that there is a very heavy battle still going on but disputed the idea that this was on the outskirts of Baghdad and around the airport. He said that it was between Babylon and Hilla.

He said this battle involved units of the Republican Guard. He utterly disputed all claims coming out of Central Command in Doha.

We'd been told that as soon as US forces knock on the city's doors, the ministers would be loading up their cars and heading off into exile.

He and the other ministers we see don't strike me as men who are about to run. For some reason they seem confident and this is the mysterious thing. What is it that gives them this confidence?

Damascus :: Damian Grammaticas :: 1141GMT

Syrian anger at what is happening in Iraq runs deep. At the first official briefing given since the war began, Syria's foreign ministry spokeswoman Butheina Shaban brandished newspapers bearing gruesome pictures of dead Iraqi civilians.

She said that Syria had stood firmly against the killing of all civilians - whether American in the twin towers in New York or Iraqis now.

She dismissed accusations made by Donald Rumsfeld that Syria had supplied military equipment to Iraq as part of a chaotic response to a war that had not gone according to plan.

Nasiriya :: Andrew North :: 1128GMT

I'm just outside the main hospital - the Saddam hospital - where many of the injured have been taken after the recent bombing.

Despite the US Marine presence across the city there is still quite a lot of insecurity, and people are very scared. People say armed thugs are attacking the hospital and are at large in the city, looting.

In a stark contrast, I'm surrounded by children as I try to file my reports. These were children who were at the hospital but they came out to see what I was doing. They're very friendly and very curious; they've been asking me my name and where I'm from. It's a total contrast to the tension that's continuing around the town.

Qatar, CentCom :: Paul Adams :: 1123GMT

Central Command has just confirmed that US Special Forces are operating in various areas around Baghdad - and they are now at or in one of Saddam Hussein's palaces.

Brussels :: Bridget Kendall :: 1049GMT

The recriminations were very bitter after the collapse of the last second resolution, but there are some hopeful signs now. One is that another UN resolution has been passed to give to give the UN Secretary General the authority to run Iraq's oil for food programme.

Also, the sort of comments we're hearing from various members of Europe is that there is a desire on all sides to try and find some consensus about what comes after the war on Iraq.

The German foreign minister also said quite specifically that he hope the Saddam regime would collapse quickly. His concern was the humanitarian crisis.

There seems to be a consensus with the countries that dug their heels in at the UN Russia, France, Germany that they want the war to be over, but they would like the victors to be the US and the UK so that the process can go back to the United Nations.

South of Baghdad :: Gavin Hewitt :: 1030GMT

US forces have battled with Republican Guard units to seize a bridge over the Euphrates at Mussayib.

The Americans believe they were fighting a force of about 2000 Saddam Hussein loyalists and members of Republican Guard units.

The Americans believe the Iraqi's did attempt to detonate the bridge but they failed.

As a result of these battles near Karbala, American forces have pushed much closer to the capital. Commanders speak of incredible progress, with some forces less than 10 km from Baghdad.

However, concern remains as to what has happened to those Republican Guard units not already destroyed. It seems that fierce fighting still lies ahead.

Qatar, CentCom :: Michael Voss :: 1025GMT

Baghdad has one river going through it, the Tigris. The Euphrates is slightly out of town. Coalition forces have crossed the Euphrates, and latest reports from the field talk of front line units being around 10km from the capital. There are indications that troops are closing in on the main international airport to the west.

To give you an idea of scale, the troops are within the M25, if you like. But where does Pinner start and London begin?

In this critical phase of the war, Central Command is in no hurry to reveal or confirm operational details.

Cizre, near the Turkish-Iraqi border :: Nick Thorpe :: 0940GMT

Convoys of military equipment are crossing into Iraq in the past few days, bringing food, fuel and medicine - but not weapons - to US forces in the region. Humanitarian supplies for the civilian population of northern Iraq are also being transported

They may not look like a significant contribution to the war effort but the lines of Turkish-registered trucks driving through these dusty border towns contain badly-needed vehicles for the 173rd Airborne Division of the US army.

Taken together, the supplies will make the opening of a northern front against Iraqi government forces much more likely. The convoys also play a symbolic role; showing Turkish readiness to support the coalition war effort, albeit as a non-combatant.

Qatar, CentCom :: Jonathan Marcus :: 0922GMT

Sources here at US Central Command say that they have reliable information that the Iraq regime may be planning to begin anonymous bombing campaigns in several Baghdad Shi'ite neighbourhoods in an attempt to falsely accuse the coalition of this destruction for their own propaganda purposes.

Whilst this is clearly a message with very strong propaganda implications it comes in the wake of film evidence, shown by the Americans yesterday, which they claimed showed an Iraqi vehicle exploding in a civilian area of the city and which they said there was no American, British or coalition involvement.

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 0906GMT

We're getting reports from Reuters that US forces have started to arrive in the vicinity of the Saddam International Airport, which if true, means they are 10 - 15 miles to the west or south west of the city.

Ali Al Salem air base, Kuwait :: Karen Allen :: 0826GMT

Tornado GR4's are clearing the way as ground troops advance northwards. These missions have seen crews picking off Iraqi tanks one at a time, not blasting entire areas.

So concerned is the air force about pinpoint precision that the orders are if a target can't be engaged, bring the bomb home.

Qatar, CentCom :: Paul Adams :: 0814GMT

There is a question rising into the minds of those forces that are moving forward, and that is: are we being drawn into a trap?

They're not encountering significant resistance, and there is some anxiety as they go deeper into the so-called red zone - the zone around Baghdad inside which its thought the regime might use chemical weapons.

Baghdad :: Rageh Omaar :: 0736GMT

I simply don't know and cannot add up where these reports of big Republican Guard divisions are.

I find it extraordinary to believe they would be heading south, out into the open, to meet this advancing 3rd Infantry division. It's something that every single senior Iraqi official - who keep speaking to us on a daily basis - says they will not do.

But where are they? I've travelled north, south and west through this city. The American soldiers are knocking on the door. You go to the gates of Baghdad - the main arterial routes - and you find nothing. Where are the tanks, where are the check points?

You do find little pockets of soldiers, not just regular troops, but Ba'ath party militia, secreted into shops, cafeterias, into the neighbourhood. This to me is going to be much more a picture of what the Iraqi leadership has in mind.

I believe that they will try to draw the American forces into street fighting where young soldiers from Minnesota or Manchester will have to find their way through Mansoor district, Academia district, though all these Baghdad neighbourhoods.

Qatar, US CentCom :: Jonathan Marcus :: 0723GMT

This two-pronged advance on the Iraqi capital by the Americans is being seen as a remarkable piece of modern manoeuvre warfare.

Senior British commanders who've been watching this are actually remarkably impressed by how the Americans have put this together.

But there is something of a puzzle. Where has the Iraqi opposition gone to? The Republican guard has not put up the expected levels of resistance.

Maybe this is an indication of how badly they've been hit from the air, perhaps it has just melted away to take up further positions closer to Baghdad.

This has been a phantom army. Iraqi regular army units also seem to have disappeared. The Americans do want to catch the Republican Guard before they got back to Baghdad, they know once they get to the outskirts they will have to halt.

People here are telling us that there is no intention to turn Baghdad into Grozny - a reference to the Chechen capital which has been levelled by the Russians forces.

Qatar, US CentCom :: Paul Adams :: 0706GMT

It is never quite clear what the Iraqi troop movements around Baghdad mean. What we think is happening is that as these Republican Guard divisions south of the city, the Medina and Baghdad divisions in particular, have been really very badly hit there have been attempts to bolster them by bringing down units from north of Baghdad, from other Republican Guard and, possibly, regular army units.

Now, in doing that, they move down through the Baghdad area where the Iraqis still have quite substantial and effective air defences, which gives those units on the ground a degree of cover because ground-moving units are very vulnerable to strike aircraft but its seems as though they may have been able to bring down some elements.

Sixty miles south of Baghad :: David Willis :: 0640GMT

We've been making slow but deliberate progress over the last two days, the US marines securing a key bridge over the Tigris river and blowing up several others securing the battlefield here.

The question is, where is the Republican Guard and what are their tactics ?

The marines expect to move fairly swiftly today having consolidated, in order to confront Republican Guards south of the city.

The unspoken fear here is that Saddam Hussein's most loyal forces may choose to withdraw into Baghdad, before the Marines get to them.

That of course would lure the marines into the prospect of street to street fighting - and that is the very last thing they want because of the potential impact on both military and civilian casualties.

Central Iraq :: Peter Grant :: 0628 GMT

I'm fifteen miles south of Baghdad with the US 5th Corps. I am now at a bridge over the Euphrates that the Americans took yesterday.

By the time I got to the bridge I saw Iraqis who had been taken prisoner on their knees being overlooked by American guards. There was the wreckage of Iraqi machinery, gun positions, and even a motorbike that had a recoilless rifle on it - as well as Iraqi dead

The bridge itself was intact. Everyone was expecting the Iraqis to destroy the bridge as they retreated, but they made a mess of it, fortunately for the Americans.

This crossing is so crucial to the Americans, that the unit I'm with had brought their own bridge in case the Iraqi one got demolished. The engineers had a 150 metre pontoon span complete with boats, rafts, and everything to float it out.

It has been very hard driving, in the literal sense of the word. With eight-wheeled lorries, some with trailers, it's been a solid movement. Sometimes on roads, sometimes across desert, and through sand drifts. Occasionally the lorries got stuck and had to be dragged out with bulldozers. But Americans kept up the pace, always on the move, always under the kosh for time, until finally they got to the bridge.

Engineers immediately went to work to strip off the explosive charges from underneath of the bridge.

Southern Iraq :: Hilary Andersson :: 0550 GMT

British troops are moving in closer to the city centre of Basra.

Now the British troops are on three sides of Basra and we've seen the 16 Air Assault Brigade move closer down toward the city from the north.

So a picture of British troops stationed in large numbers with heavy artillery, tanks, all sorts of equipment - right on the fringes of the city.

A lot of fighting is taking place alongside four bridges which cross a waterway just to the west of Basra.

Brussels :: John Leyne :: 0535GMT

I'm travelling with Colin Powell, and he says he's here to listen to the Europeans. But the Americans do seem to have some fairly firm ideas of what they want in the post-war scenario. And they don't fit very well with what the opponents of the war want, particularly concerning the role of the United Nations, the speed and the way in which Iraq makes the transition to a civilian authority.

Almost openly the Americans say they want UN endorsement of their post-war plans because they want their money. Those opposed to the war are not going to give money to the United States, but hey might give money to the UN. Of course what happens to Iraq post-war is going to be one of the biggest sticking points with the French, Germans and Russians.

There seems to be a degree of optimism amongst the Americans that they can get what they want, but not based on anything very concrete. There seems to be an assumption that countries will fall into line, despite the enormous gulf so far separating them.

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 0518GMT

The mood here is curiously calm. Either they don't know how close the coalition forces are - and I think that's unlikely because listening to international radio is an Iraqi national pastime - or they don't believe it.

We went down to the market yesterday and people said they thought it was just more of the same from Centcom. We've had lots of things that have been premature, lots of things that turned out to be wrong, and they think it's more of the same.

We hear reports of it being "the heaviest night of bombing" and maybe I'm just a very good sleeper, but it didn't strike me as at all heavy last night. I thought if anything it was on the light side. We did hear artillery or rocket fire in the south of the city, though, so the air of calm here may be shattered at any moment.

Qatar, US CentCom :: Paul Adams :: 0509GMT

Very little is coming out of Centcom at the moment, except the bare details that two aircraft have been shot down. This is at least the second helicopter that American's have lost, and the F18 is the first strike aircraft to go down in this conflict. There is no word about the fate of the pilot on board.

We're told that as far as the Black Hawk is concerned, we're told it went down somewhere in central southern Iraq. There may have been as many as six or seven people on board.

Southern Iraq:: Jonathan Charles:: 0456GMT

British forces are determined to bring stability to southern Iraq. A fresh effort is under way to flush out Iraqi fighters, some dressed in civilian clothes, who have been mounting hit-and-run attacks in areas supposedly already under British and American control.

RAF Puma helicopters packed with troops are scouring tens of thousands of square miles of desert. When they see a civilian vehicle, the helicopters swoop down and stop it. The troops then carry out a search, frisking the passengers for weapons. Anyone with large amounts of money is being taken away for further questioning. British military intelligence officers believe some Iraqi civilians are being paid to cause trouble for coalition troops behind the front lines.

The crackdown follows frequent Iraqi attacks on coalition supply lines. The routes need to be protected, otherwise front-line units could find themselves short of fuel, food and ammunition.

Qatar, CentCom:: Peter Hunt:: 0345GMT

I get a real sense with this war looking at it here from Qatar that what we're being given are pieces of the jigsaw, and that's a deliberate policy, a military policy. We're not quite sure what else is happening.

Obviously any military tactician would want to be able to surprise the enemy from as many vantages points as possible, and indeed one military expert here was saying how the west of Iraq was now effectively cut off, Saddam Hussein couldn't communicate with the west of the country, and of course the advance from the south that we've been hearing about.

The Iraqis don't have a lot of options, they're being invaded, and they want to get out of the desert.

The city suits them, street-to-street fighting suits them but it's what the Americans don't want.

New York City:: Jane Standley:: 0255GMT

The British Home Secretary David Blunkett has attacked the presence of international journalists in Baghdad, describing them as being "behind enemy lines."

The home secretary wasn't quite accurate when he said that this was the first time in our history when we have thousands of journalists with our troops and that others were operating behind what he called enemy lines.

In the 1991 Gulf War, there was memorable reporting from Baghdad, and in this conflict, there are hundreds but certainly not thousands of journalists travelling with Western soldiers.

But what may particularly irk international journalists who are reporting this war from Baghdad is David Blunkett's allegation that they may egg people of a liberal bent into believing that this is the right way to get to the true facts.

The issue of balance and reporting both sides has been very controversial in this war.

Washington, D. C.:: Steve Kingstone:: 0150GMT

An official statement from the Pentagon and coalition Central Command says a Black Hawk helicopter crashed in central Iraq at seven o'clock on Wednesday evening during what's described as an operational mission.

The statement says six people are thought to have been on board; their fate and the cause of the crash is still under investigation.

The area around Karbala has been the scene of fierce fighting between the US army's Third Infantry Division and Iraqi forces, including members of the Republican Guard.

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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