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Last Updated:  Monday, 7 April, 2003, 23:55 GMT 00:55 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.

Monday, 7 April

Washington D.C. :: Nick Childs :: 2215GMT

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said it could be days before it is known whether chemical weapons have been found at a site near Karbala.

He is being very cautious about whether the United States has found the so-called smoking gun of chemical weapons.

"We have to recognise that almost all first reports that we get turn out to be wrong. There tend to be changes in them. And as a result we have to take our time and look at it," he said.

Mr Rumsfeld said it could be days before there is a clear answer.

Belfast :: Andrew Marr :: 2126GMT

I think there is one area that is still unresolved between Tony Blair and George Bush, and that is what role the United Nations has in forming a new interim government for Iraq.

They both agree that probably until about July or August that the American military will be in effective control of Iraq. They both then say they want to hand Iraq back to the Iraqi people.

The question is who hands it over, and to which people? Iraq doesn't have a living opposition left inside the country, so will it be exiled friends of people in the Pentagon? And that is a very important issue.

Members of Tony Blair's cabinet, Claire Short, for instance, say it would actually be illegal for the United Nations not to be involved. We're an occupying force and we can't reshape Iraq's government in the long term. People in Washington agree with that, but there's a lively argument to be had across the Atlantic on the details.

Qatar, CentCom :: Nicholas Witchell :: 2113GMT

The coalition commander General Tommy Franks went into Iraq today. He suggested this war may be over sooner than he anticipated.

The Americans are in the heart of Baghdad they've decided there's nothing to prevent them staying there. They have the momentum; the resistance is less than they thought it might be. I think we're going to see a period of 24 to 48 hours of intense and maybe even decisive activity.

Baghdad :: Rageh Omaar :: 2105GMT

The city is again without power tonight and is enveloped in darkness. It brings to an end a truly tumultuous day. The city now stands on a knife-edge. After so many days of claim and counter-claim, we saw the truth for ourselves today from the balcony of our hotel.

Amidst explosions and a hail of gunfire the Americans burst into Baghdad. It is hard to exaggerate the importance of what we've witnessed. This city has always been the main prize in this war. And here, in front of our eyes were American soldiers in the heart of Baghdad.

We watched as they took over one of Saddam Hussein's palaces. Iraqis were caught utterly by surprise, stunned and terrified they fled, some in their underwear. Those left behind scrambled desperately for cover as gunfire rained around them. Then we saw the extraordinary sight of Americans taking prisoners of war in the middle of the Iraqi capital.

Belfast :: Kevin Connolly :: 2045GMT

The American President George Bush has arrived in Belfast for a brief summit with Tony Blair at which they'll discuss post-war reconstruction in Iraq, the Middle East peace process and Northern Ireland.

The mood of the summit is more Camp David than Downing Street, we are told. The two leaders strolled in the gardens of Hillsborough Castle, the official residence of the Northern Ireland secretary, which plays host to the summit.

The signal: that the two men get on well, but there is a real issue at stake -- the exact extent to which the UN should be involved in re-building Iraq physically and politically.

America is adamant that having taken all of the risks, the coalition partners should now shoulder most of the responsibility and, presumably, any financial benefit which it brings. Mr Blair is keener to build bridges to other UN members notably, France and Russia.

Central Iraq :: Andrew North :: 2031GMT

American Marines are promising regular patrols to try to address security concerns in the town of Shomali, about a hundred kilometres south of Baghdad, and nearby villages. They are also aiming to get local water and electricity supplies switched on again.

But they're not going to win over the Shia population that easily. Some Iraqis in this very traditional area are expressing concern about the actions of some US troops.

They complain that Marines have been handing out glossy magazines with pictures of women inside which they regard as offensive.

In many cases the marines have been giving the magazines out as gifts to children when they stop at the roadside, but a senior officer said all US units had been told to be aware of local cultural sensitivities and that handing out such items was not acceptable. As they try to win the confidence of a still sceptical Iraqi people, it's clear that American forces will have to tread delicately.

Washington :: Nick Childs :: 2002GMT

Donald Rumsfeld is being very cautious about whether the United States has found a so-called smoking gun of chemical weapons in Iraq. Initial reports are almost always proved wrong, he said; it will take days to find out.

Given the potential political significance of the possible find near Karbala, it's perhaps not surprising that the Pentagon is being wary, as there have been false alarms before.

Umm Qasr :: Anita McVeigh :: 1955GMT

The battle in this area now is to win the confidence of the Iraqi people. Many left here in a hurry, but local men who've stayed are being employed on projects working alongside engineers from the US Marine Expeditionary Force.

In this monotone landscape, the only a splash of colour can be seen in the children's clothes in a playground constructed by troops and Iraqi workers.

But this is only a short distraction from harsh reality. Some aid agencies confirm coalition reports that the humanitarian situation is improving here. Opening this road to the port, a scheme again employing Iraqi men should help further.

There is a sense this is a small beginning towards improving the quality of life for the Iraqi people. But the confidence is very fragile. The coalition will have to nurture it carefully if small beginnings are to lead to big changes.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 1926GMT

There have been reports today that up to 100 American armoured vehicles have come into the city and might be staying here through the night. We can't confirm that.

All we know is that Iraqi checkpoints are stopping us from going where we want to go. But that in itself is an indication that either there is battle damage they don't want us to see, or that the American troops are still there. So it's a reasonable assumption that the Americans are still there.

North West Baghdad :: Gavin Hewitt :: 1913GMT

The sheer number of people who are cowering in ditches, or walking by the roadside, carrying white flags has made a quite a big impression on me today. A lot of civilians have been caught up in the crossfire - we've certainly seen some casualties.

I think there must be some urgency to bring this to an end because there's no doubt in my mind that the civilians of the suburbs are really involved in this war. And it's clearly quite unexpected to them, in the way they come out onto the streets into the midst of a big fire fight.

Central Iraq :: Andrew North :: 1901GMT

Two Polish journalists are missing after they were stopped at an Iraqi checkpoint in an area around the city of Karbala, south of Baghdad. The journalists, from a Warsaw based television channel, were operating independently of US military forces in the area.

The Polish journalists were in a convoy of three vehicles on the main road towards Karbala, now reported to be in American hands. But before reaching the city one of the Polish team told the BBC they took an exit road towards the town of Hillah.

As they approached a village, they saw the Iraqi checkpoint. The rear two vehicles turned around, but the lead vehicles stopped and the two journalists inside were seen by their colleagues being ordered out by Iraqi soldiers at gunpoint.

When they came under fire themselves the rear vehicles drove away at high speed.

Amman :: Caroline Hawley :: 1849GMT

Iraq has repeatedly accused British and American forces of using cluster bombs. Now there has been a detailed, independent eye-witness account of one bombardment.

An Irish journalist, Richard Downes, was leaving Baghdad for Jordan when he says he saw three cluster bombs being dropped in a civilian area where the Iraqi authorities had hidden tanks and other artillery.

He saw one of the munitions fall on a crowded market-place not far from the Yamouk hospital.

He described the bomblets dropping on the market like a shower of rain as ten to fifteen people fell to the ground.

The reported use of cluster bombs is already extremely controversial. The Red Cross says they are a weapon that shouldn't be used. A spokesman said they were very, very worrying for civilians, because they target a wide area and because not all the bomblets explode when they are first fired.

Human rights groups have been warning that Iraqi civilians will now pay with their lives and limbs for years to come.

Qatar, CentCom :: Michael Voss :: 1833GMT

The US commanders in the field have been given a fair degree of latitude to do what they see fit. We understand they're still in Baghdad tonight - they haven't left at least one of the palaces.

Now that it's night time, if they've stayed there until after dark, it would be unlikely for them to withdraw. As one military source said to me, "night time is not a good time to retreat." However it is a very good time to be advancing further into the capital.

Nasiriya :: Adam Mynott :: 1814GMT

A firefight has broken out in the centre of Nasiriya. It started shortly after nightfall. Initial thoughts were that the fighting involved US forces targeting pockets of Iraqi opposition within the town, but sources with the US military in Nasiriya say they are not involved in the fighting at all.

It is therefore thought the fighting is between Iraqi groups in the town, possibly between lingering members of the Fedayeen faithful to the Saddam Hussein regime, and opponents of the regime.

The fighting has involved mortars, machine-guns and small arms fire, plus rocket propelled grenades. The fighting is taking place just to the north of the Euphrates River in the central part of the town. It is not known whether there have been any casualties.

The fighting is happening on the eve of a visit and parade in the town by an Iraqi opposition leader, Ahmad Chalabi, who is arriving in Nasiriyah with 700 so-called Iraqi freedom fighters. They are due to hold a parade in the town tomorrow afternoon and they are committed to the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime and here to help coalition forces.

Washington D.C. :: Nick Childs :: 1756GMT

Pentagon officials say initial field tests indicated positive for the presence of the nerve agents zarine and tabun and of mustard gas at a site near Karbala south of Baghdad. According to the officials, site exploitation as they call it, is under way, and they cautioned that these are very preliminary reports.

According to the officials, US forces were led to the site by information from an Iraqi detainee.

Central Iraq :: David Loyn :: 1719GMT

With heavy American forces there is no sign of a backlash from Saddam's forces so far. They appear, in this region, to have retreated or simply faded away. But the evidence of their rule can be seen in the impoverished landscape in a country which should be rich.

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 1655GMT

Early this morning, the extraordinary sight of American armour in the heart of Baghdad. Right across the Tigris from the main press hotel, US armoured personnel carriers were breaking into the main Presidential Palace.

Iraqi soldiers, some in their underwear, fled along the riverbank. An artillery site went up in flames.

Southern Iraq :: Caroline Wyatt :: 1627GMT

I spoke to one woman in Basra who was looking for the body of her dead son. She found him later in one of the compounds that the militia had been holding onto.

By and large people have welcomed the British troops, but fairly quietly. There've been no scenes of mass jubilation. I think people in Basra are pretty shell-shocked. They have been through two weeks of sustained artillery raids, of precision bombing on specific buildings where the militia were hiding out. But nonetheless, civilians were hearing that, and women and children were hearing that. It has been a very frightening experience. And to see ninety British tanks rolling down the road yesterday......a lot of people weren't sure if they were friend or foe.

But at the same time I have seen Iraqi civilians going up to soldiers in Basra today and saying "you are our heroes".

Northern Iraq :: John Simpson :: 1610GMT

This campaign now seems to be going faster than many of us have recently been thinking.

I think I'm typical of the way in which many analysts in Britain and America thought about it. In the beginning we thought it was be fast, quick and easy because we assumed the Americans would hit Iraq very hard in the first few days - but that didn't happen. Now though, the movement in seems to be quicker than ever.

People are really turning against the Baath party. I went to a village here just after it was liberated and started hearing stories about how the local Baath party was threatening people with death if they dared to defect.

The sort of hatred that that kind of behaviour generates is widespread in Iraq and it just needs to be brought out and the Americans seem finally to be doing that.

Caversham, BBC Monitoring Unit :: Mike Baker :: 1555GMT

Iraqi satellite television has now been off the air for over 15 hours. It means that only the terrestrial service is still broadcasting, and only on a very weak signal.

Today they've put out pictures of Saddam Hussein meeting his ministers, and some of his son Qusay. But there's nothing to indicate when those pictures might have been shot.

However, all the pan-Arab satellite services are reporting on events in Baghdad. One of the more interesting is from an Iranian news agency reporting from the city - and it's normally a very reliable agency - saying there had been uprising in parts of the city. It also reports that some 35 people have been killed in those clashes. But we have no other confirmation of that information.

Central Iraq :: Andrew North :: 1544GMT

Things appear to be getting a bit more peaceful in the towns and villages here, sixty miles south of Baghdad.

The main goal of the forces here is to deal with humanitarian issues - getting the water and electricity up and running which hasn't happened yet.

It seems that the Marines in this area are having some success winning over the local people. But it's still a very cautious welcome.

There's a lot of suspicion about whether the Americans really are going to see the job through. You will hear people saying "Saddam finished", but most people are still being rather cautious.

Southern Iraq :: Caroline Wyatt :: 1524GMT

What we saw today was looters piling out of Basra. We saw so many carts and donkeys going out of the city. People weren't just looting offices - they were looting hospitals as well.

But the British are letting people do that while the sporadic fighting continues until the last of the resistance has gone. After that they will have to bring back law and order.

The British will have to get a grip on it very soon if the structure of society within Basra isn't to break down. Remember they have removed the ruling authorities, so there is no police force, and no military. Somebody has to impose order so people can bring in humanitarian aid.

But the strategy of patience has largely paid off for the British. They didn't go piling in, they waited. They picked off the opposition gradually, they used psychology, sending out radio messages, dropping leaflets to reassure civilians that they didn't mean them any harm. Then when the time seemed right as one commander said it seemed like pushing at an open door.

So yesterday they took that decision on the ground at battle group level - very low level - that the time was right to go in. They've managed to do it with remarkably little damage, given the number of civilians in the city. So by and large a very successful operation so far, but the British troops do warn us it is not yet over in Basra.

Qatar, CentCom :: Nicholas Witchell :: 1510GMT

A psychological line has been crossed by the American forces on the ground in Baghdad today, and I suspect that it will take some hours to assess how big an impact that has had.

Have they broken the will of the Iraqi fighters to resist, or is there still significant fighting to come? That is what at this hour is still not clear.

Washington :: Richard Lister :: 1453GMT

The White House and the Pentagon are both feeling confident that the tide of media opinion has turned much more in their favour than it was a week ago.

The headlines this morning all suggest that Baghdad is there for US troops to go in and out of as they like. The perception here is the war is all but over, and most people are now focusing on what comes next.

But that is where we are seeing the first major disagreements, not only between the US and the UK, but also within the US itself. The White House is split from the Congress over what should happen next, the Pentagon is split from the State Department. There is a great deal of controversy about what post-Saddam Iraq should look like.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 1431GMT

We are hearing intermittent sounds of rockets being fired from Iraqi positions, not far away from here. Very difficult to see what the targets are - could be the airport, we don't know. As far as we know, the centre of town is calm, there are no Americans there and is still in Iraqi hands, but the situation is very fluid.

I was just going up and down the main shopping street talking to people. Everybody seemed in favour of President Saddam Hussein, everybody seemed to think their army was winning, nobody was that worried about the Americans. Of course this could be what they were expected to say, given there was a government official with me.

But we've had reports on Iranian TV of anti-regime demonstrations over in the poorer parts of town, in what's called Saddam City.

Iraqi television went off the air this morning. We can now get Iranian and American television in Arabic, both broadcasting messages counter to what people have been told on Iraqi television in the last few days.

Qatar, CentCom :: Paul Adams :: 1422GMT

It's still not quite clear if the body of "Chemical Ali" has been identified. It's worth bearing in mind that it was the result of an American air strike and frankly identifying the body might be quite difficult.

We know that yesterday the body of one of Ali Hassan al-Majid's bodyguards was found and positively identified. There is a feeling in the city that Chemical Ali is dead, but they've been looking in the rubble for his body, no one here is quite convinced they've found it.

Basra :: Kylie Morris :: 1359GMT

There's generally a sense of normality here. We've been speaking to people in the centre of the city who are standing around chatting, waving to British tanks and even waving to us. Everyone seems fairly resolved that there's been a massive change.

But few of them will express outright opposition to the Baathists who have been in power here. Most of them are saying now all they want is peace.

One man came up to me and said, "I just want to get a few more hours sleep". Basically the fighting has meant families, in particular children, haven't been sleeping very well and he said what's important is a sense of calm and law and order.

It's very apparent there's been looting on a massive scale here. You can see many people walking around pulling trolleys with office desks and ceiling fans, and it's quite clear that official buildings have been cleaned out by the local people.

Damascus, Syria :: Kim Ghattas :: 1330GMT

Iraqis who have been in exile in Syria for years, Iraqis recently arrived to escape the war, and Syrians across the country - all are glued to their TV sets here.

No-one can believe the images they are seeing coming out of Baghdad, but all for very different reasons.

The Syrians are disappointed that the Americans are already in the Iraqi capital, this is not the Arab victory they were expecting. But they are still hoping that the Iraqis have a surprise up their sleeves and will teach the Americans a lesson.

This attitude is angering many of the exiled Iraqis here who fled the regime of Saddam Hussein years ago. They say Arabs don't understand what life has been like in Iraq for decades - full of fear and death.

These exiles are watching television unable to believe that they might soon go back home. But seeing American troops walking around the international airport in Baghdad, or driving their tanks on the banks of the Tigris River, also hurts their pride.

Northern Iraq :: John Simpson :: 1249GMT

It's been fairly quiet in northern Iraq, so far. Today we understand that it's the same gentle pushing forward as in recent days.

The Americans are playing this extremely close to their chest. I suspect they're waiting for Baghdad to fall before trying anything in the northern cities of Kirkuk or Mosul.

I don't think they want to stir up too much trouble with Turkey which is nervous about anything the Kurds may do. That's the reason why we won't see too much going on here. But I could be wrong.

Nobody on the Kurdish side knows. Nobody on the American side will speak.

The mood here about the push on Baghdad is absolute delight. These are people who have nailed their colours to the American mast very firmly.

They support America out of sheer conviction because they have suffered as nobody else has from Saddam Hussein and people like "Chemical Ali".

Basra :: Ben Brown :: 1224GMT

Today, the British have had to do very little fighting to enter Basra. Troops from the Parachute Regiment just walked in. They received quite a good reception - not ecstatic - there was no cheering or rose petals.

On the whole, people we met said British troops were welcome. They were grateful the troops had come. They were asking the British to bring water and food and asking them to restore order.

There is real anarchy here at the moment. There's a lot of looting. People are ransacking buildings that have been abandoned.

But the British have had an easy time of it. Few shots, if any, were fired. And the Parachute Regiment, who were expecting a ferocious fight in the centre, have been pleasantly surprised.

North West Baghdad :: Gavin Hewitt :: 1216GMT

There have been some fierce fire fights with Republican Guards. We've seen a lot of casualties from Iraqi forces and quite a lot of civilians who have been caught up in the fighting.

Some of the fighting has died down. It is the view of the commanders here that the resistance they're facing is disorganised.

It tends to be skirmishes involving 20 or 30 Iraqis. They seem to have lost a huge amount of their equipment. I can't tell you how many burning tanks and armoured vehicles I've seen in the last 24 hours.

It's a very unstable situation. I can see 40 or 50 civilians just cowering, holding up white flags because it is so unstable. The Iraqi army pulled out of here about an hour ago.

From what I can see, they are losing control of this city.

Baghdad :: Rageh Omaar :: 1209GMT

The city is faltering now.

In the last five minutes I have seen an American fighter plane close overhead.

The strategic control of the city is starting to slip. It looks now like the Americans are moving at will.

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 1204GMT

The Americans say they took 65 tanks into the heart of Baghdad. We saw four of them directly opposite the main media hotel by the presidential palace.

The fire now appears to be coming from all around us as Iraqi resistance continues. The Pentagon has refused to call this the battle for Baghdad, saying it was more a show of force.

The situation on the ground supports this. Driving in the city earlier today it appears that the Americans control a roughly two square mile pocket at the centre in a loop of the Tigris.

Angry and aggressive Saddam Fedayeen are stationed at roadblocks around the area. They are protecting bridges with rocket-propelled grenades.

In most of Baghdad the regime is still in charge, but the Americans are hoping that this bold psychological move will hasten its end.

North West Baghdad :: Gavin Hewitt :: 1157GMT

I'm on the western approach to Baghdad with US marines. It is a mixture of farmland and buildings. There is evidence of a lot of firefights here.

Civilians have been caught up in it. Not far from where I am now I can see about 20 civilians cowering by the side of a building. They are waving white flags and clearly fearful.

Basra :: Hilary Andersson :: 1127GMT

It looks as if the power of the Baath party has been devastated today. British troops have moved in from every direction paratroopers have gone in on foot to the old city of Basra - thought to be the final hideout of Saddam's militiamen.

The Royal Marines and the 7th Armoured Brigade have gone into one of the presidential palaces.

There are over 90 Challenger tanks and 80 armoured vehicles inside the city and the British military is now dominating Basra in every way.

This doesn't mean that there won't be more Iraqi resistance. That may continue for several days. It's still extremely dangerous. One officer has described it as "hair-raising".

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 1038GMT

Fighting is still going in Baghdad. But after a drive through the streets, it seems that most of the centre remains, for the moment, in Iraqi hands.

Hostile and angry-looking Saddam Fedayeen are guarding the bridges with rocket-propelled grenades.

The US currently appears to control the area around the Republican palace and the al-Rashid Hotel, about two square miles.

Fedayeen forces are manning road blocks round these areas, but there's no real sign of the Iraqi army.

Northern Iraq :: Dumeetha Luthra :: 1016GMT

Heavy US air strikes are pummelling the area around Mosul. The plan of forcing the Iraqi army to retreat from air power alone appears to be working.

Special forces with Kurdish soldiers have occupied swathes of territory running along the former frontline and are pushing towards the region's major oilfields.

Kurdish officials claim they are now less than forty kilometres from Mosul. Further east officials say they are only five kilometres from Kirkuk.

Both Mosul and Kirkuk are major strategic towns for the US coalition to take.

On the ground, US special forces and the Kurdish fighters have met with heavy and unexpected resistance.

Soldiers say the Iraqi army are mixing with villagers so they won't be targeted by air strikes.

One special forces soldier said it means that the whole process is taking much longer than expected in northern Iraq.

Cairo, Egypt :: Heba Saleh :: 1011GMT

Where are the defenders of Baghdad?

That's the question many Egyptians are now asking. There's mounting anxiety here that the much-awaited Iraqi resistance might not materialise.

The Egyptian public had been hoping that the coalition will be drawn into fierce door to door urban warfare and that that's where they might take a real drubbing.

But the ease with which American tanks rolled into central Baghdad has bewildered people here. They haven't lost hope, but they're worried.

There's no admiration for Saddam Hussein in Egypt. But they've cheered every act of Iraqi resistance, no matter how small, seeing it as an attempt to salvage the Arab dignity.

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 0956GMT

Fighting is still going on in the city. After a drive around the centre the Iraqi regime appears to be still in control.

Hostile and angry-looking Fedayeen are guarding the bridges with rocket-propelled grenades. There is no real sign of the Iraqi army.

Despite continued bombing, shelling and small arms fire only a block from the frontline, normal life bizarrely goes on. People are queuing for bread, drinking tea and eating kebabs.

London :: Roger Hardy :: 0947GMT

US forces have begun airlifting hundreds of members of an Iraqi opposition group into southern Iraq. The group, the Iraqi National Congress, and its leader Ahmad Chalabi have set up a base in the southern town of Nasiriya.

A senior US military officer has described the group as the nucleus of the new Iraqi army.

The arrival of Ahmad Chalabi and a few hundred of his followers is widely seen as a move by the Pentagon to boost the credibility of one its main allies within the Iraqi opposition.

His lightly armed men - the advance guard of what's being called the Free Iraqi Forces - will help with humanitarian work and act as a liaison between US forces and the local population.

Basra :: Ben Brown :: 0921GMT

We are now following troops from the British Parachute regiment who are advancing on foot through to the heart of Basra.

Tanks and heavy armour are not really suitable for the small streets in the old part of the city.

So far there has been only very minimal resistance here, it is eerily quiet.

We have not witnessed any mass scenes of jubilation, Iraqis here are more interested in looting abandoned buildings.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 0914GMT

We've driven around Baghdad over the past few hours in an escorted trip with the Iraqi Minister for Information. We went to the Ministry itself where there was clearly a fire fight earlier in the day.

We saw several militia fighters with sheathes of rocket-propelled grenades strapped to their backs. They were giving us the V for victory sign.

The picture I see of Baghdad this morning is of a small group of Iraqi defenders, relatively lightly armed with a little bit of artillery backing them up.

They seem still very motivated but small in number.

Caversham, UK :: Mike Baker :: 0841GMT

I am at the BBC's monitoring operation, where radio and TV around the world are watched and listened to minute by minute.

The Iraqi satellite television service appeared to go off the air abruptly this morning. It just stopped broadcasting.

It could be that the Americans are jamming the channel or it is no longer able to broadcast.

At the same time, as Iraq loses control of its state media, we are getting increasing amounts of US or British sponsored radio stations.

They're trying to reach out to the Iraqi people telling them to no longer support the "dying regime". We're seeing a change of control on the air waves.

Central Iraq :: David Loyn :: 0819GMT

American marines units are reinforcing positions in central Iraq to try to restore order and fight off the last remnants of the Iraqi army.

After a series of attacks on American supply convoys going north, US marines are now setting up to protect the routes and to try to bring the first stability to towns and villages the American forces bypassed in the rush to Baghdad.

Today, they set out with a specific task of destroying images of Saddam Hussein in former Ba'ath Party headquarters, though it could take longer for a suspicious population to trust the invading army.

During road blocks in the past few days, guns have been seized and former officers in Saddam's army taken away for questioning, although the marines are letting former soldiers go free.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 0808GMT

From what we can see the Americans have largely pulled back. But they are still somewhere in Baghdad. We hear the sound of artillery being fired by the Iraqis.

The situation is changing minute by minute. It's very confused.

Traffic is zipping along nearby. People must now realise that these are not the usual air strikes. This is fighting in Baghdad.

A lot of people will be taking cover in their homes waiting to see what will happen. But on the east side of the Tigris, there is traffic, people are going about their business.

But it's a very surreal atmosphere here this morning.

Southern Iraq :: Tim Franks :: 0757GMT

The military sources here do seem to be absolutely convinced they have found the body of Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali".

There may also be as many as 20 Ba'ath party officials dead in the same attack. It is believe they died after a coalition bombing raid.

Damascus, Syria :: Kim Ghattas :: 0754GMT

A lot of Iraqis in Syria still have difficulty believing that US troops are on their way into Baghdad.

Fear has become an intrinsic part of Iraqis' lives. But they are waiting and watching to see what will happen in their country.

Arab public opinion has different takes on the events. In one way opinion is hardening. We're still hearing reports of young Arab men who are trying to make their way to the Iraqi capital to fight with Saddam's forces.

And there are still demonstrations in the Arab world in support of Iraq. You hear a lot of Syrians saying they hope the end result will be victory for Iraq.

This is making a lot of Iraqis inside Syria very angry. They've been telling me that most Arabs don't understand what life in Iraq has been like over the last 20 to 30 years.

They don't understand why other Arabs are holding up pictures of Saddam Hussein during demonstrations.

Washington :: Ian Pannell :: 0724GMT

The Pentagon doesn't want to lay out their policy or plans to the Iraqi authorities. They're describing this as a show of force rather than a battle for Baghdad.

They want to send the message that they can go where they want, when they want.

But a Pentagon spokesman declined to say if there would be a battle for the city.

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 0717GMT

We are hearing in the last few minutes continuing small arms fire.

There has been a remarkable performance by the Iraqi information minister who came on to the BBC roof to deny the coalition forces were here.

He has offered to take journalists on a tour of the city in the next couple of hours. All the information ministry people are still here and operating.

We're being told the Republican Guard are protecting all the bridges and the Americans are on sites on the other side of the river.

The residents remain petrified and they have been fleeing, packing their belongings and setting off.

Others are in their houses with their heads down and hoping for the best.

I can see a few police cars driving around with Iraqi flags and pictures of Saddam.

There isn't any sign that ordinary Iraqis are preparing to join the Americans and rise up against Saddam.

For now the Iraqi regime are control on this side of the river.

Baghdad :: Rageh Omaar :: 0718GMT

The battle that had been taking place close to where I am has died down. We no longer hear the incessant machine gun and heavy mortar fire that was going for over an hour on the other bank of the Tigris river.

The Iraqi Information Minister came and talked to journalists. He was defiant to the very end. He said they would slaughter the American forces and chase them out of the city.

The gun fire was going on as we were talking to him. But he said he felt as he did every single day and that he would keep briefing us throughout the day.

Basra :: Hilary Andersson :: 0711GMT

Today is all about taking Basra, a major military focus today. They are still coming under resistance but it is being described as incoherent.

One commander I spoke to called it quite hair raising.

Basra :: Kylie Morris :: 0659GMT

A senior British military officer says his forces are now in territorial control of most of Iraq's second city Basra.

Col Chris Vernon says British forces have pushed to the Shatt-al-Arab on two sides, the city's main waterway, and are also moving towards a presidential palace in the town.

Members of the Parachute regiment are moving towards Basra's old city.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 0657GMT

An Iraqi eye witness has told me that Iraqi militiamen are complaining that they are being sniped at from American soldiers in the Al-Rashid hotel. At some point this morning the US was in possession of the hotel.

I can now hear more artillery going off. There's clearly a battle still going on. The Iraqis are claiming to have destroyed 35 tanks and that American dead are lying everywhere.

But what a crucial moment this is in terms of morale of the people of the city and what the Iraqi leadership will have to be telling people.

Central Command, Qatar :: Paul Adams :: 0636GMT

What happened two days ago in effect was that the Americans announced to the population of Baghdad, "We can come into the city at any time."

Today, what they appear to have announced is, "We can come into one of your president's palaces at any time we like."

Maybe by the end of the day the American forces will have pulled out of the centre, having visited, having been filmed in a number of key regime facilities.

And that will send a very powerful message. They will have been seen by the population of Baghdad right in the centre of their city.

This is a psychological move designed to tell anyone who is in any doubt that the end of this war is nigh - the end of Saddam Hussein's regime is nigh and there is no point clinging to it.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 0617GMT

The fighting is on that side of the city. We're on this side. People are going about their business on one side of the city while the Americans are fighting Iraqi troops on the other.

This is the battle for Baghdad and even if the Americans don't stay, psychologically the situation will be utterly transformed.

It is the crucial day for the regime. They have to convince their people they're still in charge. The Americans intended it this way.

They wanted an audacious strike into the heart of Baghdad. They have it now. I think it will be a long day.

Central Command, Qatar :: Paul Adams :: 0608GMT

Officials here are urging caution. They are warning us not to conclude that US forces are intending to take and hold ground in Baghdad.

They suggest this morning's operation is just the latest in a series of moves and that others will follow.

Central Command, Qatar :: Peter Hunt :: 0603GMT

This is a conflict unfolding moment by moment with constantly updated reports from the front line. A modern war in a modern age.

One journalist travelling with US forces has said the troops he is with have seized control of a presidential palace in the heart of Baghdad. He said they are now going through it room by room.

The correspondent said they'd encountered limited resistance on the way in. This morning's events will be viewed as a considerable success by senior officers here in Central Command.

What's not clear is what they'll do next. They are likely to want to seize the initiative in the face of disorganised opposition.

One officer said, "We're attacking right down in the centre of the city right now. This is for real."

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 0541GMT

Over the last 30 minutes there has been a major battle within 500 yards of us for an artillery position and a presidential palace compound on the other side of the river from our hotel.

We've heard intense small arms and mortar fire. We've seen two American armoured personnel carriers and black-clad figures believed to have been American troops running along the banks of the river.

The artillery position went up in flames and the Americans claim the presidential palace is now under their occupation.

We can certainly confirm that they're there. We don't know if it's all under control but for once we can believe the US claims - this could be it.

It remains to be seen whether they can hold these positions. They are bringing armour which suggests they expect to hold them. But they will be the target of an Iraqi counter attack. They are not giving up and lying down.

Outside Basra :: Hilary Andersson :: 0516GMT

The waiting game in Basra is very much over. There are 90 Challenger 2 British tanks in the city. Scores of Warrior armoured vehicles and many troops from the 7th armoured brigade are also inside the city.

This morning there are Royal Marines have gone in. The big push yesterday was from the west. And there are also British troops on the northern side.

So effectively this is a pincer movement. The main focus today is on Basra's old city where Iraqi militiamen are believed to be taking refuge.

Baghdad :: Rageh Omaar :: 0455GMT

From my hotel balcony I can see two US tanks right in the heart of Baghdad they are near one of the presidential compounds. There's fire burning - a big plume of black smoke and explosions everywhere.

I've see mortar rounds as well and there's the sound of heavy machine gun fire from the area of the presidential compound.

There's been a battle going between am forces and Iraqi for half an hour. The gunfire hasn't stopped at all and the two American tanks are parked right beside the banks of the Tigris river.

This is right at the very heart of Baghdad and in the distance coming from the west and south east of the city there is the heavy rumble of artillery fire.

There's now white smoke drifting from what I assume was a mortar round. There are people looking on in some amazement - some Iraqi officials on one of the main roads.

You can just hear the heavy burst of machine gun fire coming from the area of the presidential compound.

It's extraordinary. This is the first clear sign that we've seen of US forces in the very centre of Baghdad

Washington D.C. :: Ian Pannell :: 0020GMT

Differences that have emerged seem to centre on the issues of governance, in other words who is going to decide how Iraq is governed and who is going to run Iraq until a new representative government is actually formed.

There have been a number of different opinions voiced. There are differences not only between President Bush and Tony Blair but differences between the UN Security Council and the Bush administration and also differences here in Washington not only between Congress and the Bush administration but also between different branches of government as well.

US Central Command, Qatar :: Dominic Hughes :: 0014GMT

Karbala is this holy city which contains many sacred sites and US forces have been entering the city, meeting some very fierce opposition. Yesterday we were told it was street-by-street fighting, today door-to-door fighting.

But they've been taking it very cautiously because it is a holy city. It would cause enormous resentment if some of those holy sites were damaged in the fighting. So they've had to be very cautious as they enter the city and they're trying to avoid, for example, much of the old part of the town.

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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