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Last Updated:  Sunday, 6 April, 2003, 22:34 GMT 23:34 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.

Sunday, 6 April

Northern Kuwait :: Karen Allen :: 2231GMT

For the past four weeks my perspective on the war in Iraq has been almost exclusively a military one. Punctuated by tornado strikes and techinical details about payloads.

So one would expect perhaps a rather sterile view of the war - devoid of human emotion. But this couldn't be further from the truth.

Living on the UK Tornado base in northern Kuwait, I have worked alongside the crews, eaten with them, shared their chores and shared their fears when in the dead of night.

'Red Red Red ' saw us leap from our bed, don our gas masks and stumble through the sand into air raid shelters. Twenty two 'scud runs 'later, and one can only now fully reflect on that sense of fear and wonder at what must be going through the minds of 'ordinary' Iraqis, on the receiving end of potent coalition attacks. .

The only contact with civillian life on the base has been with some of the locally employed kitchen hands. Meet them down in the shelters and you'll find that these are the people with no masks. Not because they are fearless, but because they are poor.

Life in this part of the world is cheap and many people here are uncomfortable with that.

Qatar :: Michael Voss :: 2020GMT

The Americans say that the first coalition aircraft to land at Baghdad's international airport was a C-130 transport plane.

The military runway had been heavily bombed by allied aircraft, but not the civilian one.

It now appears that that runway has been cleared of obstacles left by the Iraqis, who had wanted to prevent an airborne assault.

Thousands more coalition troops, with tanks and armour, have taken up positions around Baghdad.

Qatar :: Michael Voss :: 1821GMT

Coalition forces have started to tighten the noose around Baghdad. According to Central Command its forces are continuing to isolate the city.

Reports from the field talk of US troops controlling a semi-circle around the city, from where the Tigris river enters Baghdad in the north to where it leaves in the south.

Major Ross Koffman from the Third Infantry Division, is quoted as saying that army units destroyed an Iraqi tank battalion during a 45 mile push around the western outskirts of the capital.

Other reports speak of thousands of reinforcements arriving to joint front line units, including those at Baghdad's airport.

Cen Com also says that US Marines have reached the eastern outskirts of the capital, after what appears to have been some of the most determined resistance so far.

Central Iraq :: Andrew North :: 1807GMT

American forces in central and southern Iraq are stepping up efforts to tackle humanitarian problems in towns and villages that have now fallen under their control.

There is still some fighting in these areas. US artillery opened up following an afternoon mortar attack.

But addressing these issues is seen as crucial, if the US military is to convince Iraqis that it's committed to removing the Ba'ath regime from the country once and for all.

Pentagon :: Nick Childs :: 1804GMT

The US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has said it'll take more than six months to set up an Iraqi government after Saddam Hussein has been removed.

Speaking on American television, he also said the United Nations can have a role in bringing assistance to the Iraqi people.

Basra :: Jonathan Charles :: 1517GMT

Armoured vehicles spearheaded the move into Basra. For more than a week British units had held off seizing the city, worried about civilian and military casualties, but today their patience snapped.

It's now a question of when, not if, Basra falls.

As reinforcements come in, some marines are being flown out for a rest, exhausted after fighting in the furnace-like heat of the desert - the rising temperature over 100 degrees Fahrenheit - another reason why the British decided they couldn't wait any longer.

Baghdad :: Gavin Hewitt :: 1455GMT

I am on the western outskirts of Baghdad and I can tell you that on the main highway into town today units of the American Third Infantry Division pushed into town.

There has been and continues to be a very, very heavy firefight. The column I was travelling in took incoming fire from Iraqi positions.

We then saw evidence of a fierce firefight with probably 10 Iraqi tanks and armoured personnel carriers burning. Civilians lay dead on the ground.

Earlier in the day we counted probably 20 to 30 of those tanks that had been destroyed recently.

Mosul, Northern Iraq :: John Simpson :: 1412GMT

In the last 24 hours the Kurdish forces have met some resistance. There has been sporadic artillery fire. Guns that we thought had been destroyed - plus things like the tank that was firing in our general direction today.

So the Iraqis are putting up more of a fight than I think the Kurds expected, and it is a fighting war here now - just as it is in the south.

It is just that it is done in a more unconventional manner. The forces ranged against the Iraqis are not a regular army they are mostly a guerrilla army. Nevertheless it is turning into a real war here now.

Moscow :: Nikolai Gorshkov :: 1350GMT

According to reports a convoy of vehicles under Russian flags came under small arms fire eight kilometres outside Baghdad on the road to the Syrian border.

There were about 25 people in the convoy, some of them Russian journalists. There are conflicting reports as to whether the Russian ambassador himself was injured in the attack.

The decision to evacuate Russian nationals was taken after the Russian embassy was almost hit during an allied bombing raid earlier in the week.

According to Russian officials the route and the timing of the evacuation were agreed with the coalition forces and the Iraqi side.

But the convoy had to leave the agreed route, Russian television reported, because of a fire fight further down the road. Then the convoy itself came under fire.

Several people were wounded and one car was damaged and had to be abandoned.

Baghdad :: Gavin Hewitt :: 1310GMT

There has been a fierce battle today on the western outskirts of Baghdad. As companies from the 3rd Infantry division pushed down the main highway towards the city there was heavy artillery fire coming from the Iraqis, it fell either side of the road as we pushed forward.

Nearby we saw more than a dozen Iraqi tanks and armoured personnel carriers burning, dead Iraqis lay on the ground. At least 15 civilian vehicles were caught up in the fighting and we saw some of their dead lying beside the road. Others huddled in a canal ditch waving a white flag.

The fighting has continued with mortar artillery and rocket salvos from the Americans. Although the Iraqis are being overwhelmed they are putting up determined resistance.

Irbil, Northern Iraq :: John Simpson :: 1228GMT

We were heading for the town of Diberjan which had just been captured by the Kurdish forces when we joined the special forces convoy.

As we got out of our vehicles the American officer in command saw an Iraqi tank a mile or so away and called in an airstrike.

A few minutes later two American aircraft circled low overhead. I saw the bomb falling from the aircraft and then, extraordinarily, I saw it just before it hit the ground only 10 yards away. It was painted white with a red nosecone.

The explosion killed a dozen or so people outright, one of them may have been an American, and a large piece of shrapnel hit our translator, Kamran Abdul Razak, in the legs.

We tried hard to save him and he had the help of the American special forces medics who were there but he died of blood loss a few minutes later.

The rest of our team suffered light shrapnel wounds and perforated ear drums. Given how close the bomb had landed to us, those of us who survived were all extraordinarily lucky.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 1209GMT

The sound of planes flying over is constant now, we've just had a burst of anti-aircraft fire.

Over the past quarter of an hour or so the Iraqis have been using a new weapon from the centre of Baghdad, we've heard the whoosh of a Katyusha rocket being fired and then in the distance the rumble of artillery and then another whoosh from a rocket.

It sounds as if they are throwing everything they have got from the city outwards towards the American troops who are amassing on the southern outskirts of the city.

The picture painted by the Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf is of Iraqi forces pounding the Americans, driving them back.

The picture is quite confused. I think what we are seeing now is another waiting period before another thrust in by the Americans and these are the Iraqis trying to keep them at bay with artillery.

Basra :: Hilary Andersson :: 1117GMT

We don't know whether British troops are in the city centre of Basra.

There are some reports that they are. But this is a huge assault. I am standing in a position which yesterday British tanks were preciously guarding.

This is an old polytechnic. Now there are no tanks here at all - they have all headed down the road towards the centre of Basra.

What I can also see is helicopters overhead, this will be because US helicopter gunships were called in after some heavy fire broke out, there has been some Iraqi resistance.

The resistance was at a factory complex and it was because of this outbreak of Iraqi fire which has been described to me as heavy, that US helicopter gunships were called in to support.

Basra outskirts :: Kylie Morris :: 1052GMT

After waiting at the edge of the city and staging several incursions inside this is the biggest push yet by British forces.

Challenger tanks and armoured vehicles have pressed towards the city centre but have met stiff resistance at a factory well defended by Iraqi fighters.

Smoke is billowing from parts of the city and there's a constant rumble of British tanks moving back and forth on the roads into the city.

The push follows a massive psychological campaign by the British to win the confidence of the people of Basra and assure them that if they rise against the Baghdad government the coalition will support and protect them.

The raids began in the early hours of the morning on what was described as a known Fedayeen position.

One tank commander who spoke to the BBC said the people had been coming into the streets to welcome the British troops. He said the British will now hold the positions they have gained.

Basra :: Jonathan Charles :: 1034GMT

I flew in to the outskirts of Basra early this morning on an RAF Chinook helicopter. It was one of several massive helicopters, these big transport helicopters carrying the Royal Marines and dropping them outside the city ready for this assault, this sudden decision to take Basra.

Whilst we were there we saw huge amounts of armour, a lot of challenger tanks going by and also quite a few armoured personnel carriers - this was clearly a very, very big operation.

Qatar :: Jonathan Marcus :: 1027GMT

Sources here are making it very clear that this is the big push on Basra that we have long been expecting.

They say they have responded to a changing situation on the ground. They believe they may have killed one of the leading pro-regime loyalists in the city - this man known as chemical Ali, they certainly have the body of one of his body guards in the rubble of the building that they bombed yesterday.

They have detected a change in public mood - the beginnings of the break-down of law and order and they've decided to act.

They have gone very deeply into the city and we're told they intend to stay there. How far they go and how long they remain will depend on the level of resistance.

The clear implication being that if they can cope with the resistance and if it isn't very severe it is likely they will occupy a significant proportion of the city today.

Kuwait :: Ryan Dilley :: 0958GMT

A fact-finding team from UK-based charity Cafod has entered again Umm Qasr in southern Iraq. These aid workers granted an interview to BBC News Online on Friday, in which they said the humanitarian effort in the Iraqi areas occupied by British forces was a "shambles".

This damning interview has reportedly filtered back to the military in Umm Qasr and Cafod's Patrick Nicholson says there is a "tangible sense" that the problems with supplying Iraqi civilians with clean water are now being addressed.

However, Mr Nicholson says there is still a dire water shortage at Umm Qasr's hospital. Aid workers handed over there own drinking water so staff could mix plaster of paris to set a patient's broken arm.

It remains difficult to independently verify such stories - since media access to Umm Qasr is limited. However, a Save the Children team also says the situation in the town is bad and cannot yet say when it will be safe enough set up a non-military network to deliver aid.

Northern Iraq :: John Simpson :: 0951GMT

Well it's a bit of a disaster I have to say. A convoy of about eight or ten cars in northern Iraq coming up to a place which has just recently been captured. American special forces in a truck - two trucks I think - plus a very senior figure.

I've counted ten or twelve bodies around us so there are Americans dead.

It was an American plane dropped the bomb right beside us - I saw it land about ten, twelve feet away I think, so close. And they hit their own people, may have hit a senior Kurdish figure, very senior, brother of the top man.

Qatar :: Jonathan Marcus :: 0858GMT

Sources at Central Command headquarters in Qatar have confirmed that a major British operation has started in and around the city of Basra.

There are no details yet of the operation, which is still very much underway, but it comes in the wake of reports that the Iraqi commander in the south, Ali Hassan al-Majid, known widely as Chemical Ali, may have been killed in an air attack yesterday.

A US spokesman has confirmed that the bodies of his bodyguards have been found in the rubble of the building that was hit.

Northern Iraq :: John Simpson :: 0845GMT

An American warplane has bombed a Kurdish convoy in northern Iraq which included members of US special forces.

This is just a scene from hell here. All the vehicles on fire. There's bodies lying around. This is a really bad own goal by the Americans.

We don't know how many Americans are dead. There's bits of ammunitions exploding from some of these cars.

And a very senior member of the Kurdish Republic government who also may have been injured, maybe even dead.

Baghdad :: Gavin Hewitt :: 0748GMT

I am part of a very substantial American armoured column and we have arrived at the very outskirts of Baghdad. We had a glimpse of the suburbs just a short time ago; we are now on the main highway that runs into the centre of Baghdad.

I don't think there is any intention to push into the city, rather to take up the positions around it.

We have heard this morning quite a bit of shelling coming from the direction of the airport. We passed that to our east and in that vicinity there is still some fighting going on although it sounded to me like Americans firing at Republican Guard positions.

Near Baghdad :: Peter Grant :: 0745GMT

The Americans have moved a further massive force into the outskirts of Baghdad. Early this morning the tanks and vehicles of the American 54th Combat Brigade crossed the Euphrates to the south-west of the Iraqi capital.

The US army has already pushed two Brigade Combat Teams over the river. Each comprises some 2,000 tanks, armoured personnel carriers and support vehicles. Now another massive armoured column has crossed the Euphrates bridge.

It adds significantly to the American strength in the area and to the watching troops it is a sign of the commanders' determination to exploit the gains they have made over the past 48 hours.

Northern Iraq :: John Simpson :: 0512GMT

It's a completely different war from the one in the south. It's a much more laid-back and quiet, less man-intensive war - nevertheless it's achieving quite swift gains.

US Central Command, Doha :: Paul Adams :: 0506GMT

One official I was talking to the other day said it's possible that Britain and America might be instrumental in helping to foster some of those rumours.

They were quite taken for example the other day by the fact that on Baghdad television an official had to discount rumours that members of Saddam Hussein's own family were fleeing the country.

They are more than happy here at coalition headquarters for those sorts of rumours to sweep through the streets of Baghdad because it's part of the psychological warfare that goes along with the more conventional warfare - an attempt if you like to encourage the citizens of Baghdad who have been in some ways rather ignorant of the true nature of what's been going on over the last couple of weeks to encourage them to come to an understanding that the end may be very, very close.

Washington D.C. :: Nick Childs :: 0236GMT

To back up US ground forces the air war over Baghdad has moved into a new phase. US aircraft have begun round the clock patrols to provide direct cover for the US troops.

It is being termed "urban close air support". At least a dozen planes will be on hand 24 hours a day to respond quickly if targets emerge.

At the same time, while much of the current focus of attention is on Baghdad, Pentagon officials say that US led forces are now also paying increasing attention to strikes on Iraqi forces around Saddam Hussein's home town and power base of Tikrit further north.

Johannesburg :: Barnaby Phillips:: 0118GMT

The invasion of Iraq is unpopular in South Africa. Most people resent what they see as blatant American aggression.

This country's moral leaders, Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, are appalled. Several dozen South Africans went to Baghdad as human shields; thousands have marched in the streets in protest.

But, judging from the radio phone-in programmes and chats with friends, there is also a racial divide. In so far as there is support for the war, it comes from the white minority, just as it did after 11 September.

Many white South Africans instinctively see themselves as part of the West and support Britain and America in times of crisis; many non-whites adopt the opposite position.

US Central Command, Doha :: Dominic Hughes :: 0007GMT

One of the things you get from speaking to people here is that they are quite surprised in many ways that the resistance was so weak when they passed through those streets in south-western Baghdad.

You certainly get the impression that they were expecting a much tougher battle and that when the opportunity arose to do that arcing type of incursion through those south-western suburbs they took it and they were expecting certainly to run in to more opposition. It came as something of a surprise when they were able to do that relatively easily.

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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