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Last Updated:  Saturday, 5 April, 2003, 23:25 GMT 00:25 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.

Saturday, 5 April

US Central Command, Doha :: Dominic Hughes :: 2312GMT

Reading between the lines, we can assume that there will be more operations of this kind and that the encircling of Baghdad will continue until the coalition forces really bring that pressure to bear on the leadership.

I think their game plan is to try to impress upon the people of Baghdad that the leadership is not in control of the situation, that the coalition forces are the ones who are calling the shots.

Moscow :: Steve Rosenberg :: 2046GMT

Switch on Russian TV a few days ago and you might have thought you were back in the Cold War. News bulletins on many of the state-controlled channels here were bursting with anti-American sentiment.

Coalition troops were often referred to as "occupying forces". Media sympathies were quite clearly on the side of the Iraqis.

But at the end of last week all that seemed to change. Out went the emotion, in came cool-headed reporting - less rhetoric, more reality. Russian media seemed to regain their sense of balance.

London :: Roger Hardy :: 1947GMT

Even as they keep up the pressure on Baghdad, the Americans are putting in place the first building-blocks of a new, post-war Iraq. Jay Garner is expected to hold a press conference in Kuwait on Monday and the following day members of his team will be in Umm Qasr.

The idea is to start building a new civil administration in areas of the south and then gradually extend its remit through the whole country.

For the moment the priorities are likely to be humanitarian aid and rebuilding damaged infrastructure.

But General Garner's task is also to prepare the ground for what's being called the IIA - the Iraqi Interim Authority.

In other words, he'll help groom Iraqis who can eventually take over the government of the country after what's supposed to be a three-month period of US military rule.

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 1906GMT

The city appears to be quiet tonight, not a huge amount of bombing at the moment.

A very large explosion about 90 minutes ago made us leave our hotel here, but all is quiet again now.

Central Iraq :: Andrew North :: 1847GMT

It is a lot more relaxed in this area where I am now with US marines, travelling north from Nasiriya.

The troops are trying to win hearts and minds by getting water and electricity working again in the towns and villages under their control.

There are also hoping to get schools open again too and are trying to improve the food distribution system.

In one town local tribal elders are supplying some authority as Baath party members and other regime officials left some days ago.

Murals and posters of Saddam have been pulled down. Some people today were even praising President Bush.

US troops are appealing to local residents to help them find Iraqi fighters still in the area. And it is clear some remain because a marine camp in the area briefly came under mortar fire.

Pentagon Washington D.C. :: Nick Childs :: 1752GMT

The Pentagon says there'll be more ground incursions into Baghdad by US-led forces. US air forces are preparing to provide round the clock support for the American troops in and around the city.

Pentagon officials say that as well as sending a message to the Iraqi leadership, the first push by US ground forces into Baghdad was to test the Iraqi response and gain first-hand reconnaissance information.

They also say there'll be more operations to target more specific objectives and points of resistance.

A US general has said that as part of the intelligence gathering effort, one predator unmanned reconnaissance drone, had flown over Baghdad for 12 hours.

He also said that the Iraqi Republican Guard divisions around Baghdad had been crippled as organised units. But he warned that groups of Iraqi soldiers could still be a threat.

Northern Iraq :: John Simpson :: 1718GMT

It is going slowly here. I've spent all day on the front lines at both Mosul and Kirkuk. There doesn't appear to be any rush here.

I was with US special forces. They had moved forward five or six kilometres in the early morning and then we stayed in the same place all day. There may be more forward battle movement tomorrow.

There are reports that the Iraqis have torched some oil wells in the northern oilfields, around Kirkuk in particular. We need to see this for ourselves though and I haven't been able to, as I was about 20kms away.

It is a huge oilfield though and it would be a huge effort to blow up every single well here.

Baghdad :: Rageh Omaar :: 1707GMT

I can see that power has been restored to parts of the city.

The Iraqi authorities are slowly getting the lights back on, but not where I am.

Cizre, Turkey :: Nick Thorpe :: 1646GMT

After crossing the Turkish Iraqi border at the Habur gate, 1,000 tonnes of wheat flour have now been delivered to UN warehouses in Dohuk.

The World Food Programme already has a network of food distribution agents in the region; each is responsible for getting the aid to 600 families.

They've been chosen as the most in need because they missed out on food which the Iraqi Government distributed before the war began.

More convoys should pass through Turkey in the coming days, taking wheat flour to two larger cities in the Kurdish-controlled north of the country, Irbil and Sulaymaniyah.

Under an emergency appeal launched a week ago, the United Nations World Food Programme hopes to raise $1.3bn to supply 160,000 tonnes of flour to Iraq, as well as rice, pulses, sugar and cooking oil.

Even if the war finishes soon, UN agencies fear the real humanitarian crisis facing the Iraqi people may only just be beginning.

Washington D.C. :: Richard Lister :: 1620GMT

It seems that the air controllers are on alert for air cover operations over Baghdad.

Now that would be for cover for troops on the ground.

This suggests perhaps the movement of troops into Baghdad itself in the not-too-distant future.

Central Iraq :: David Willis :: 1614GMT

We're on the outskirts of Baghdad, about 20 miles from the city.

There was persistent resistance from the Iraqis, especially overnight. I have been out today looking around and have seen signs of a one-sided battle.

Burnt-out artillery positions, personnel carriers reduced to dust, bombed tanks, smouldering vehicles, it was a grim sight.

From the artillery fire I've heard today there is fighting ahead of the camp we are currently in. The American marines I am with are confident.

There has been a lot of weapons found by this group of marines today too.

In a small school, about 100 yards from where I am, they found classrooms that had been turned over to weapons manufacturing. I saw a whole range of weapons there.

Across the street in the police station there were also a lot of weapons. These were mostly new guns.

Officers here think the weapons were brought here by the Republican Guard in the hope that a militia group would appear here. It looks like that plan has failed.

It is now eerily quiet. There are few people here, just a few farmers. They are all coming out to meet the troops, many carrying white flags.

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 1608GMT

It is in the interest of both sides to make wild and unrealistic claims of their successes.

We are seeing a curious limbo here, the gates of Baghdad remain open, there are no checkpoints. The Americans could come in by bus if they wanted, the buses are still running from the suburbs.

Washington D.C. :: Richard Lister :: 1504GMT

Now in Washington it is all about what happens after Saddam. That is the message from the White House and the American press have been clearly won over by this.

The key thing is to persuade the hearts and minds of the American people that this is a war that is going well and will be soon over. The message is to be patient.

Kuwait City :: Ryan Dilley :: 1403GMT

On Thursday, UK-based charity Cafod offered a damning assessment of the humanitarian effort around Umm Qasr, an area of southern Iraq under British control. Today, a Save the Children team has confirmed this report, saying the situation is "dire".

This is the first time Save the Children has crossed the Kuwaiti border to visit the area south of Basra. "Immediate intervention is required," says the aid agency's Nicole Amoroso.

"The situation was bad before the war, and we knew the conditions weren't going to improve, but this region has clearly been adversely affected by the conflict."

At Umm Qasr hospital, two doctors are treating 300 patients each day in a building which has not been supplied with water for more than four days.

Despite the British army bringing in supplies of bottled water and fitting a pipeline, Save the Children was told that water is being sold to the local people at a price few can afford. They estimate 100,000 children in the area are at risk from "cholera and similar serious diseases" associated with a lack of clean water.

It is proving difficult for journalists to independently verify the state of the humanitarian effort in southern Iraq. The Kuwaiti authorities will not allow reporters to cross the border unless they are accompanied by a military escort.

Southern Iraq :: Kylie Morris :: 1349GMT

British forces say they are sending forensic specialists to a site near the Iraqi city of Basra where human remains have been found.

As many as 200 coffin-sized boxes were found in a building described as an army barracks between Basra and al-Zubayr.

The place where the remains were found has been sealed by British forces, who say it will now be treated as a mass grave. Videotape of the discovery shows boxes stacked five high inside the building.

Officers of the Royal Horse Artillery found the bodies when they were carrying out a security check. One officer says that he believes the people had been dead for several years and had no connection to the current conflict.

Northern Iraq :: Dumeetha Luthra :: 1344GMT

B-52s carried out a series of strikes in northern Iraq this morning in a sustained hour-long attack.

Bombs hit Iraqi positions on the front line separating Iraq from the Kurdish-controlled autonomous region, now commanders say they are waiting to see if the Iraqis retreat or whether more bombing needs to be called in.

Doha, Qatar :: Jonathan Marcus :: 1324GMT

Things are becoming somewhat clearer about the US troops being in Baghdad.

It seems this was very much a show of force, with US forces conducting a raid into Baghdad, moving at first north and then swinging around and back towards the airport.

There was some sharp fighting on the route, a drive that took them an hour or so for the Bradley vehicles.

A spokesman here said this was a message to the Iraqi regime that coalition forces could do what they liked, when they liked and to show that the Iraqi regime is not in control.

We are also been told that a runway on the civilian side of the airport in Baghdad could be ready for operation relatively soon.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 1304GMT There is no doubt that US forces were in Baghdad during the day. It looks like a probe by a reconnaissance unit that met no resistance and kept going.

Reliable witnesses saw a tank burning, signs of engagement in southern Baghdad but I've just been for an hour's drive around the city on an officially escorted tour and, although in the presence of government guides, we pretty much went everywhere - we couldn't see any sign of US forces.

Southern Iraq :: Hilary Andersson :: 1158GMT

The mood amongst the inhabitants of Basra, from people coming out of the city, is that people are very cautious. They don't really know if the British troops are here to stay.

They are not sure this is the end of the Saddam regime, they remember 1991. Some are even frightened to talk to us.

The people here are war hardened and are not about to give their trust until they feel it is safe to do so.

We have had no confirmation of earlier reports that up to 1,000 paramilitaries are attempting to surrender in Basra.

Baghdad :: Rageh Omaar :: 1155GMT

I have seen quite clearly evidence of battle in the southern part of the city. I have also seen Iraqi forces moving around the streets, some with artillery.

It is a very big mystery as to what has happened to the Republican Guard, have they come out of uniform, have they dispersed, have some just gone home, no-one knows, we just haven't seen them.

Doha, Qatar :: Michael Voss :: 1136GMT

Dozens of US tanks and vehicles drove towards the city along one of the main southern highways this morning

They reached the bend in the Tigris river opposite the university before they took a turn on a major road back towards the airport.

The Americans say they met fierce but sporadic resistance. They authorities here say it is not an attempt to take Baghdad.

Military sources also say other army units are believed to have moved beyond the airport securing the north eastern approach to the city.

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 1104GMT

Groups of journalists have now fanned out in all directions across the city and we have not seen any Americans.

I did go out and covered most of the centre and didn't see anything of American forces.

I saw some civilian vehicles with their windows shot out. I also saw some civilian causalities being taken into one hospital. We weren't allowed into the hospital, that may be because there are military causalities in there too.

I did see some Iraqi tanks inside the city for the first time.

There is clearly something going on, but not in the centre as the Americans have said, but out on the outskirts of Baghdad.

There are some shops open and there is traffic on the roads.

Nasiriya :: Adam Mynott :: 1056GMT

I'm standing by the banks of the historic Euphrates river and the US marines here are starting to do what they've been wanting to do for a while, that is turn some of the water in the Euphrates into drinkable water for the local population.

US marines are still fighting to gain total control of the city, where small pockets of Iraqi resistance are holding out.

In the meantime they are also turning their attention to providing for some of the humanitarian needs of residents in the town. This has included medical assistance for some of the injured.

It seems to me, from the locals I've spoken to that they seem to have enough food but water is their main concern.

There's a long queue here behind us of people waiting. At the moment a couple of large tankers are being filled up. They're coming with all sorts of pots and pans to get filled.

Ankara, Turkey :: Jonny Dymond :: 1042GMT

Three Iraqi diplomats have been expelled from the Turkish capital, Ankara.

They were asked to leave because they had been carrying out duties incompatible with their status. The Iraqi embassy in Ankara remains open.

Doha, Qatar :: Peter Hunt :: 1033GMT

For the last two weeks here at CentCom the official spokesmen made Trappist monks look chatty. But this morning that has all changed, everywhere I look they are on TV and radio.

Baghdad :: Rageh Omaar :: 1030GMT

I drove through the city for over an hour, all around the heart of Baghdad and to its outskirts and I saw no evidence of American forces in the centre of the city.

What I did see was evidence of small units of Iraqi soldiers and fighters all around the Iraqi capital.

And of course all around us the destroyed government and communications buildings wrecked by continued air strikes.

Basra :: Hilary Andersson :: 1015GMT

The reports that we are getting, unconfirmed, are that a mass grave was found on the outskirts of a town called al-Zubayr which is not too far from Basra.

It could be several hundred people that these are the remains of. The reports suggest that bones, skulls and so on were found in rags of military clothing in a former Iraqi military base.

Those are the details coming in but it is important to remember that this is unconfirmed right now.

Northern Iraq :: Dumeetha Luthra :: 0915GMT

There has been the steady sound of B-52 bombers flying overhead, followed by ground-shaking thuds as the bombs hit Iraqi bunkers about 10 kilometres from the city of Mosul, in northern Iraq.

The horizon has been filled with smoke clouds. On the ground, Kurdish fighters have been reinforcing areas vacated by retreating Iraqi forces.

There are about 500 Kurdish troops now along the Mosul front line. Yesterday there was heavy fighting between the two sides, with special forces providing logistical support.

There has been a flurry of troop movement in the Kurdish-controlled area, with more military hardware being brought forward.

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 0914GMT

Reliable sources say they have seen clear evidence that a battle has taken place on the southern outskirts of the city.

These witnesses have seen shell cases on the ground, three or four burnt-out Iraqi anti-personnel carriers - one tank was on fire still, although Iraqi forces are still in the area according to these witnesses and the Americans are not to be seen.

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 0854GMT

US spokesmen say they have reached central Baghdad, they are claiming it's more than a patrol that goes in and out.

But in this part of the centre we've seen no sign of the Americans. Quite clearly, though, there is something going on. Truckloads of Iraqi troops, some towing howitzers, have appeared for the first time on the streets.

Police cars, sirens blaring, are broadcasting messages of defiance. And there have been sounds of small arms or mortar fire from the south-west of us. That's the direction of the suburb of Yarmuk, where there are reports of a battle.

The US has a history of premature claims in this conflict and it's clearly in their interest to create psychological momentum in the hope that the defenders will give up. But in Baghdad events appear to be accelerating.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 0854GMT

There are rumours - and I say they are no more than rumours - that American troops are at the university buildings in the south of Iraq, we've not seen any of that.

What we have seen is a lorry load of Iraqi troops speeding southwards towing an artillery piece of some kind, we are not sure where that was being taken.

And we have seen police cars driving up and down playing load music, waving Iraqi flags and holding up pictures of Saddam Hussein clearly an attempt to reassure the population that the authorities here are still in charge.

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 0832GMT

We are in the centre of Baghdad and we certainly haven't seen any American troops or anything in our part of the centre but we are hearing evidence of fierce battles a little bit further down the road.

There are reliable reports from western correspondents there's a battle going on in the suburb of Yarmuk or a battle that has gone on this morning at Yarmuk, which is about four miles from us towards the south-west, towards the airport.

What we have seen in the last 15 minutes in the centre is the first Iraqi artillery that we have seen in this whole conflict. Previously the Iraqi defences seemed to consist of these kind of "Dad's Army" sandbag platoons of civilians in uniforms holding Kalashnikovs.

We have now seen three truckloads of Iraqi troops and two large howitzers pass us in the last 15 minutes, the first we have seen of any concrete attempt to defend the city.

Basra :: Hilary Andersson :: 0820GMT

The coalition forces, dominated by the British, have tried to kill Chemical Ali (Ali Hassan al-Majid) - the man in charge of Iraq's military in southern Iraq.

He was thought to be hiding out in a specific group of buildings. Coalition aeroplanes have struck missiles into those targets and that was followed up with artillery fire.

We do not know whether he survived these attacks but we can assume that the coalition forces will continue to try to find this man.

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 0805GMT

We are in the centre of Baghdad, as close as you can get, and we see no US troops. But I can tell you that there has been the noise of what sounded like small arms or artillery fire coming from the south and south-west of us in the last few hours and the bombing, which was extremely heavy overnight, has continued.

We've had aircraft constantly screaming over the city so something is clearly happening here. We are getting reports that there was a very heavy battle for the suburb of Yamuk but we cannot confirm or deny that American troops are in the city centre.

I am looking out at the rather bizarre scene of near normal war-time morning traffic - people driving around, civilians all over the place. Either they don't realise or they don't care. Life has a kind of brittle air of normality here.

Baghdad :: Rageh Omaar :: 0715GMT

We haven't heard any firing, we haven't heard any bombardment in the centre of the city and we are right slap bang in the heart of the city and barely half a mile away from some of the key government buildings.

This is the very heart of Baghdad where I am now. I can't see anything, I can't hear anything. Whether it's small forces, some scouting parties or whether we're talking about large columns being in the centre of the city I am not clear.

We are going to drive around the city as we have done every single day and report exactly what we see but at the moment in the heart of Baghdad not much going on.

Basra :: Hilary Andersson :: 0614GMT

In the early hours of this morning, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers have left their positions on one of the bridges they are holding to the west of Basra, and they have gone into the city.

They carried out a search of some of the houses there where they suspect Baath party members are hiding out. They have made some arrests and they have pulled back to their original position.

In addition, there has been a continuation of these leaflet drops. Quite interesting, we have now found out some of these are being dropped by B-52 bombers, they are coming out in what are called leaflet bombs - tens of thousands of leaflets.

South of Baghdad :: David Willis :: 0516GMT

With a sharp flash of light and a deafening crack, a battalion of US marines unleash artillery fire on a company of about 150 Iraqi fighters a few miles ahead of us on the road leading into Baghdad - round after round until there was no sign of life ahead.

Yet as one pocket of Iraqi resistance was quashed, another rose up. In the dead of night the marines encountered incoming fire and responded in kind.

The Republican Guard has clearly set up positions all the way along the Tigris River, but from what I saw this morning the battles have been one-sided.

Bombed Iraqi artillery positions, burnt-out tanks, smouldering armoured personnel carriers - a grim, charred landscape, eerily quiet, littered with bodies.

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 0510GMT

Bombing has continued right into the morning, quite heavily. We do sense that a decisive moment is approaching.

The Americans may be at the gates but the Iraqis appear to have left the gates open, so what their defensive strategy is, we don't know.

Delhi :: Jill McGivering :: 0345GMT

It's hard to find anyone in India who supports the war. From tea stalls to expensive shopping malls, everyone has the same view: the war is wrong, it's against humanity, President Bush has his own agenda.

Doha, Qatar :: Peter Hunt :: 0205GMT

There is a growing optimism here that the relentless bombardment around Baghdad has been successful in one of its aims, which was to seriously degrade the Republican Guards which were dug in around the capital.

One British commander has spoken about how he felt their units were overwhelmed by the rapidity of the American advance.

Pentagon officials say that two divisions are pretty much gone. It's a more confused picture about the other four, but they've had serious damage inflicted on them.

Sydney :: Phil Mercer :: 0140GMT

The war has highlighted deep divisions within Australia's Iraqi community. Many here are in exile, forced out by the regime, and believe the conflict will eventually help their country escape the rule of a tyrant.

At one cafe in Sydney's Western suburbs some describe how relatives have been killed in the fighting.

Many share a deep mistrust of the United States after the failed uprising against Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War of 12 years ago. Others however believe the US led invasion will liberate their homeland.

"Saddam is like a cancer in the Iraqi body," one man told me. "The cancer has to be removed by a surgeon, which is a war."

Many Iraqis in Australia fear for the safety of relatives back home.

"I think about my parents," said one Iraqi. "They're suffering right now. All they're getting is bombs. What kind of help is that?"

Among some, there is support here for President Saddam Hussein, born perhaps out of a overwhelming sense of resentment towards the Americans that many of these people feel.

One common sentiment has repeatedly surfaced here in the community, that once the war is over many Iraqis plan to return home to help rebuild their shattered country.

Washington D.C. :: Justin Webb :: 0105GMT

Two senior advisors to President Bush have made contrasting statements about the relative role of the coalition partners and the United Nations in providing a new administration for Iraq after the war.

The National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said a United Nations role was not currently under discussion, but the Secretary of State Colin Powell said a dialogue on the UN role had already begun.

Ms Rice said Iraq was unique. It was natural that those who had sacrificed blood and life would play a leading role in the aftermath. She did not dismiss the UN, but indicated it would become involved only after a new government was set up.

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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