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Last Updated:  Saturday, 12 April, 2003, 21:22 GMT 22:22 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, 12 April

Damascus :: Kim Ghattas :: 2018GMT

Syria has again rejected US accusations that it is helping the Iraqi leadership in any way.

The US accusations were baseless and were just an attempt to divert attention from the US's failures in Iraq, Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa said in a joint news conference with his French counterpart.

He said Syria was being victimised by a superpower that didn't know what it was doing.

Mr al-Sharaa accused the US of wanting to destroy Iraq by targeting not only the regime, but also Iraq's institutions.

He did not address specifics of the US accusations and didn't say anything about Iraqi leadership figures hiding in Syria, but he rejected the US claims as a whole.

Baghdad :: Ben Brown :: 2015GMT

The Americans are talking about a possible night-time curfew although a lot of the looting goes on during the day in broad daylight - the looters don't seem very ashamed about what they're doing.

They're also talking about joint patrols with old Iraqi police officers who they're urging to come back to work - so far about 80 of them have done so. The problem is there's no functioning government to pay these officers so they're asking why they should come back.

The Americans are absolutely cock-a-hoop over the surrender of Saddam Hussein's former chief scientific adviser General Amir al-Saadi. The general was the man who was always put in front of us, the press, in the run-up to the war, to deny absolutely they had any weapons of mass destruction.

He was one of Saddam Hussein's key advisers and intelligence officers will already be interrogating him to see what more he knows.

Kirkuk :: Dumeetha Luthra :: 1751GMT

In a swirl of cheering and music, American troops went on parade through the main square of Kirkuk this evening.

They're here and they want everyone to see it. The soldiers have been increasing their profile in the city as Kurdish troops very slowly pull out. Since its fall, Kirkuk has been relatively calm.

There has been some looting, but Kurdish soldiers have been trying to maintain a degree of law and order.

There are now checkpoints on the roads out of town. Cars are stopped and examined for loot. Any found is taken from the car and brought back to the city.

It's this role that the Americans must now take up, but their numbers are limited and Kirkuk's tense ethnic balance could still spark trouble. Arab and Turkman residents have been accusing Kurds of looting cars and houses.

They feel they're being targeted and want someone to do something about it quickly

Centcom, Qatar :: Jon Brain :: 1724GMT

Coalition commanders insist it's unrealistic for their troops to be expected to restore law and order in areas where they're still encountering armed resistance.

They say that Baghdad remains a war zone. But they've clearly been disconcerted by the reaction to the scenes of violence and looting currently being broadcast across the world.

At today's briefing Brigadier General Vincent Brooks promised the coalition would do everything in its power to alleviate the situation and he claimed the number of incidents was already falling.

Although the problem of looting remains, the aid situation is improving.

Twenty tonnes of medical supplies were flown into Baghdad airport last night, the first such flight since the city fell to the coalition.

Supplies of food discovered in Iraqi army stores are being distributed by American troops.

On the battlefield attention is increasingly turning towards Tikrit, the Baath Party's power base. While air strikes continue, coalition ground forces are getting every closer.

Central Command believes remnants of the Republican Guard may be regrouping there with the possible intention of staging a last stand against the coalition.

Basra :: Clive Myrie :: 1707GMT

It is pretty quiet here at the moment.

We're not seeing as much looting as we did in previous days. The crime has moved on to a new level, it is now muggings and car jackings.

The British are under pressure to do something about it. They have about 1000 troops on the ground here patrolling the streets.

This is a big city, a sprawling metropolis. The British are saying they need local help and we are going to see Iraqi police back on the streets. They say that 70 local policemen have been vetted and will return to patrols on the city streets.

This is a bold move the British are taking but is been seen as a positive step.

Local people say it is difficult to find policemen who are not part of the old regime.

Daily life is difficult, it has just started raining which is a Godsend here. There is marked shortage of clean water. Tankers from Kuwait have been coming over the border but there is still shortages.

Electricity is intermittent, makes things difficult particularly in the hospitals.

Washington D.C. :: Jon Leyne :: 1651GMT

Opponents and supporters of the war have both been gathering in the city today.

The anti-war protestors say they will continue to call for an end to the occupation of Iraq.

Baghdad :: David Willis :: 1643GMT

Shortly before dusk just as the afternoon sun was melting behind the Tigris a hail of machine gun fire erupted from across the river towards our hotel.

US marines returned fire, at two buildings. Exchanges went on for about half an hour before they moved tanks across the river.

Baghdad :: Ben Brown :: 1621GMT

A firefight has taken place right outside our hotel this evening. A surreal calm was shattered.

US marines ran to take up their places.

The looting continues too. I met one surgeon in a city hospital armed with a Kalashnikov to protect his hospital.

The Americans say they are thinking about bringing in 1200 law enforcement officers to help get the police force working.

There have been reports that a senior official, General Amir al-Saadi, who represented the Iraqi regime during talks with UN chief weapons inspectors before the war and features on the US' "most wanted" list has surrendered.

He still insists that Iraq has no chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. He is a big fish and US intelligence officers will be keen to talk to him.

Basra :: Jennifer Glass :: 1600GMT

Looting and lawlessness remain a problem in Iraq's second largest city, Basra.

In a town of one point four-million people British forces have been in control of the town for six days.

The commander of 7th Armoured Brigade says he's trying to get Iraqi police out on to the streets to restore order. Every day he says there is less and less looting and crime and that little by little life is getting back to normal.

Northern Baghdad :: Andrew North :: 1543 GMT

American Marines have started patrols in the north eastern area of Baghdad, but there is no sign of the disorder here ending.

A battalion has moved into the Al Qud area where they believe Iraqi fighters may still be hiding.

With shooting being heard across this area these fighters could be anywhere.

Cairo, Egypt :: Heba Saleh :: 1534GMT

The French Foreign Minister, Dominic de Villepin, has said that the United Nations should play a central role in the reconstruction of Iraq.

Addressing an invited audience in Cairo after a meeting with the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, he also said the coalition forces had the primary responsibility for restoring order in Iraq.

The Minister is at the start of a tour which will take him to Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

Mr de Villepin started his speech in Cairo with a long, flowery introduction which emphasised the strong cultural and historical ties between Europe and the Middle East.

France, it seems, wants to remind the Arabs that it is a longstanding ally which should not be written off. The US may have had its way over Iraq but French policy, Mr. de Villepin seemed to be suggesting, is closer to Arab positions on key issues.

The French Minister spoke of the need for a just peace between Israel and the Palestinians. He said the plan known as "the road map to peace," must be published and implemented without delay.

France, he said, would be prepared to host an international conference to define the framework needed for reaching peace. Mr. de Villepin's vision is certain to be welcomed by Arab public opinion. His tour comes at a time when American credibility is at its lowest in the region.

Many Arabs feel that Iraq has now been occupied by the Americans. Some Arab newspapers even accuse the coalition forces of encouraging the looters in Iraq.

Mosul :: John Simpson :: 1531GMT

It is difficult to move around the city at present but things here do appear to be stabilising. 800 more American troops are patrolling the city.

The situation remains difficult, the basic problem is that the uprising, jointly planned by the Kurds and the Arabs, didn't get the necessary support of the Americans when that was needed.

Kirkuk :: Dumeetha Luthra :: 1523GMT

Kurdish troops are slowly withdrawing from here. I am told they will all have gone by the end of the day.

The fighters may certainly have all disappeared by the end of the day but will they have left the city, that is the question. I saw thousands pour in on Thursday, but I have not seen that number leave today.

I'm standing in the central square now and there has been celebratory scenes happening here. But in the last few minutes I have heard a number of explosions. I can see black smoke and hear ambulances. People here are dispersing now.

There remains the potential for trouble here, as the ethnic anger grows in the city.

I went out to the oilfields earlier today. They are intact, the Americans have secured them.

Some Arabs there said there had been some looting in a nearby village but not on the scale it is happening in other towns.

Washington D.C. :: Philippa Thomas :: 1518GMT

They are very anxious here about coalition forces having to act as police forces on the streets of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities.

They do not want their troops bogged down in this.

There are questions being asked about duties the coalition countries have to restore security under the Geneva Convention.

It is an ongoing question and they do not have the answers here.

Baghdad :: David Willis :: 1506GMT

Just a few minutes ago there was the sound of gunfire all around us here, machinegun fire.

For a while there was quite an intense firefight.

It appears to have been targeted at the US troops.

As I was peering out over the hotel balcony I could see the US Marines trying to identify where this shooting was coming from.

It is quiet again now. It shows that Baghdad is not secure.

Pentagon, Washington D.C. :: Nick Childs :: 1455GMT

The US Navy could withdraw up to three of its five aircraft carriers that have been involved in operations over Iraq.

The senior US naval commander in the region, Vice-Admiral Timothy Keating, has said the first ship could be leaving in a few days.

Kut :: David Loyn :: 1436GMT

The town of Kut is now in American hands. This eastern route will now be open to American and British troops.

The general I'm with says he runs Iraq between the Tigris river and the Euphrates.

The Americans have been greeted with open arms.

The other concern here is looting. I'm in a school here with electrical power. This is the first place I have seen electricity. Water is available here for about one hour a day.

I'm really struck by how dictatorship does impoverish people.

This is an oil rich country and you can see open sewage running alongside the road, clearly low education levels. A broken depressed tribal people without expectations.

This is the first place I have seen electricity. Power is available here for about one hour a day.

The reconstruction effort is going to have to be enormous.

Baghdad :: David Willis :: 1424GMT

The situation is still fairly lawless here. There have been pockets of resistance. The Americans have appealed for the police force to get back to work along with other civilian employees.

It appears that about 80 of the former police force have volunteered to do so. The question is what will be the reaction of people to men that represented the regime they hate so much back on the streets.

The US State Department has said it is sending 1200 police officers but they won't be here for some time.

We've seen anecdotal evidence that US Marines are beginning to get more of a handle on it but it remains a very volatile situation here and the Marines are very thinly spread.

Hyde Park, London :: Clarence Mitchell :: 1345GMT

The organisers are saying that something like 100,000 people have taken to the streets again marching against the war in Iraq through the centre of London.

Initially it looked as if the figures would be very much lower compared to previous turnouts but they have picked up somewhat and are now gathered here in Hyde Park.

The organisers here deny the conflict in Iraq has been relatively casualty-free. They say it's now more vital than ever to make their voice heard. They claim many people are still dying needlessly and it's still an immoral and illegal action that's taking place.

They say none of them were friends of Saddam Hussein. Many people on the march have welcomed the fact that he has gone and that his relative is in the process of falling.

They say they want to protest against America's long term intentions that they want to protest against. They believe this isn't the action of a liberator. They see this as a conquest of Iraq.

Mosul :: John Simpson :: 1327GMT

The situation in Mosul continues to be extremely tense, particularly between the Kurdish and Arab populations of the city.

A cloud of acrid smoke is hanging over the city and on the roads all the shops are closed for fear of rioting. Burnt-out vehicles litter the side streets.

The uprising here has gone very badly wrong.

It was planned by one of the leading Kurdish figures in the city, in close conjunction with a leading figure on the Arab side, but they'd understood that the Americans would come in quickly.

When that didn't happen the widespread looting and disorder began. Now there's still only a total of two hundred American troops in Mosul and they've had to retreat to the civil airport after being fiercely attacked.

Everywhere you go in this city people ask you where the Americans are. The alliance between Arabs and Kurds has broken down for the time being and there has been shooting between the two groups.

The dangers of all this for the future of Iraq are obvious and as night comes on people here are getting extremely nervous about the prospect of greater violence.

Kut, central Iraq :: David Loyn :: 1321GMT

US Marines set out this morning with intelligence that there were several hundred Arab suicide fighters holed up in Kut. The Marines set out apprehensive and heavy-handed, going in and expecting a fight. As it turned out those fighters had gone and Kut is now in American hands.

It's a very significant development because it means that the road between Basra and Baghdad on this eastern route is now effectively open.

We still don't know what has happened to the Arab fighters, if indeed they ever existed.

The Americans have been greeted with pretty open arms. There is some jubilation from crowds in the streets.

But there's already signs of some looting here and this is evidently going to be a problem in the coming days.

Ankara :: Jonny Dymond :: 1220GMT

The Turkish interest in northern Iraq has relaxed from a position of extreme concern to that of grave concern.

The entry of US forces to the town of Kirkuk and the exit of Kurdish forces from that town and the presence of Turkish military observers in the city has eased the situation considerably.

Turkey will go back to watching the situation very wearily but with perhaps less of an extreme concern that it had yesterday.

Baghdad :: Caroline Hawley :: 1212GMT

Ordinary people are getting increasingly angry about the continued anarchy here. They say it shouldn't be allowed to happen. It feels like the fall of the regime has left a very dangerous vacuum.

People here really want the Americans and British to step in and fill it. They have begun to do that. They are calling for people to show up for duty - people who could restore the water treatment systems, the electricity and the police.

We're not sure how many have shown up but there is a major catch - the Americans are asking people to volunteer to do this. There is no system to pay them.

Parliament Square, London :: Angus Crawford :: 1128GMT

In February, as many as two million people took to the streets to protest against war in Iraq. A month later that number fell to about 250,000.

Today organisers predicted more than 100,000 but the start of the march has been delayed because too few people have arrived.

Parliament Square, where a two minute silence is meant to take place, has been very quiet.

Demonstrators have now started filing into the square. Police say it's too early to predict accurate numbers though it may well turn out to be in the low thousands.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 1128GMT

Ever since the US forces arrived as liberators, Baghdad has slipped deeper into anarchy. At one hospital the BBC interviewed a doctor in a surgical mask and gown and carrying a Kalashnikov.

He said he had had to fight off looters who were coming like rats.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says it is extremely alarmed at a situation where Baghdad's medical services are in a state of near collapse.

There was also a lengthy gun battle near the capital's main museum this morning. Archaeological treasures from the dawn of civilisation lay broken in pieces.

People hadn't even bothered to steal much of what was there, only to destroy.

BBC Monitoring Service :: John Andrew :: 1045GMT

The Syrian news bulletins have this morning highlighted the difference between the British attitude towards Syria - trying to build relations - and the Americans who have been very tough and giving warnings to Syria.

They highlighted a call that Jack Straw made to the Syrian foreign minister earlier this week in which he said he didn't back the accusations by some US officials.

This was before President Bush warned against Syria offering a "safe haven" to fleeing Iraqis.

One Israeli newspaper has quoted US sources, saying that Damascus is now "crawling with fleeing Iraqis".

German newspaper Die Welt has warned the Americans against sizing up Syria as its next target, adding that it would signal the end of the transatlantic alliance and Germany's withdrawal from Nato.

Baghdad :: Caroline Hawley :: 1039GMT

Looting has continued in Baghdad as American forces appeal for Iraqi policemen and civil service workers to restore order and services to the city.

Several former police officers have already stepped forward. But a spokesman for the Marines said they would be working as volunteers - he didn't know if or when they would be paid.

The fall of the regime has left a dangerous vacuum here, with looting still going on in many parts of the city. The Iraqi National Museum has been ransacked, display cases broken, priceless historical treasures lost.

US Central Command, Qatar :: Jonathan Marcus :: 1027GMT

The Americans are well aware of the security problems in Baghdad. They still seem to be saying that it's a matter of time.

They stress that the Iraqi capital, as many other parts of the country, remain a war zone. They're still in what they call a combat situation. There are still fire fights taking place.

But they are saying they are trying to "deconflict combat operations from civilian activities".

In plain English that means they're trying to identify areas where there's less threat where they are trying to adopt a different posture.

The fact remains that there are serious problems and the media attention is focusing their minds on trying to do a little more to bring about normality.

Amman, Jordan :: Richard Galpin :: 1003GMT

The United Nations has announced it is to re-establish its presence inside Iraq for the first time since the war began more than three weeks ago.

The announcement was made by the senior UN official responsible for coordinating humanitarian assistance for Iraq.

Ramiro Lopez de Silva, who is currently visiting Jordan, said he expected small teams of international staff to return to the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq on Monday.

Another team will cross the Iranian border into eastern Iraq to assess the needs of a large group of people sheltering in the area after fleeing their homes.

It's also hoped a permanent UN presence will soon be set up in the south.

Ankara :: Jonny Dymond :: 0951GMT

Kirkuk was a always a flashpoint for Turkey. It was a city both with a symbolic significance and a practical significance.

It's symbolic because it's claimed not only by the Kurds but by the Turkmen, who are championed by Turkey.

And it has practical significance because of the vast oil fields that surround the city. It's the third largest oil field in Iraq.

When Kurdish fighters went in and took control there was enormous alarm in Turkey. There was much talk of troop movements

Now Kurdish fighters have been seen coming out and Turkish monitors are on the ground, I think Turkey is now acknowledging the work being done and it won't be sending troops.

The politicians are trying to calm the situation down. At the same time, of course, those troops remain on standby on the Turkey-northern Iraq border.

US Central Command, Qatar :: Paul Adams :: 0910GMT

The relationship between the Kurds and the Americans is sufficiently close. There's been an enormous amount of political coordination also involving turkey.

Ultimately even though Turkey was concerned that the Kurds jumped the gun at Kirkuk, the situation will be resolved, the Kurds will return to the places they came from and the situation will be stable.

Baghdad :: Paul Wood :: 0816GMT

We're able to go a little way in and around the city. We have some freedom of movement although there are checkpoints in a lot of places and there are gun battles.

We have seen the Marines standing by as people carry off armfuls of stolen goods. And the Marines will tell you these are not their orders and that they're here as a fighting force, not a police force.

They simply don't have the boots on the ground to intervene. They've set up a civil-military coordination centre asking former policemen of the regime to come back.

I can give you an idea of the dangers of that. I was introduced to a police general who said he was just in charge of traffic and was coming back to help the Americans.

Others have identified him as somebody they claimed was responsible for some of the excesses that went on under Saddam. Of course, we don't know if that is the case.

Washington D.C. :: Andrew Walker :: 0713GMT

The diplomatic tension in the run-up to the war may well be reflected in the G7 finance ministers' meeting.

The US Treasury Secretary John Snow, who hosts the session, said the IMF and World Bank should start giving technical assistance to Iraq as soon as possible. He also said the discussions should include Iraq's foreign debt. Both could be difficult issues.

The World Bank's President James Wolfensohn has said that the bank's position is complicated by the United Nations' sanctions against Iraq and he wants explicit approval from the bank's member countries before he gets involved.

Another bank official has said that even going to Baghdad and paying a hotel bill there could be construed as a violation of the sanctions.

US Central Command, Qatar :: Jonathan Marcus :: 0651GMT

If there is a weakness in the US war plan it could now be becoming apparent, during this untidy period between peace and war.

More troops are badly needed. Military police for example might be a stopgap measure, but most of the reinforcements rolling in at the moment are heavy combat units.

Saddam City, Baghdad :: Andrew North :: 0605GMT

It is a near impossible task for the marines with the numbers they currently have in this volatile area of Baghdad.

There are more than a million people here and during the day when they patrol, any Fedayeen simply melt away into the backstreets. All the marines see is friendly people waving and shouting.

All morning they have been searching for a suspected cache of weapons, but every lead proves a dead end, but at night-time this area is like a scene from a wild west film, with the rattle of machine-gun fire going on for hours.

Istanbul :: Jonny Dymond :: 0510GMT

Kirkuk was always a flashpoint and when it fell to Kurdish forces Turkey was swift to demand that they withdrew.

Turkey is not prepared to allow the Kurds to take control of a region which might make a Kurdish state economically viable and it also wants to protect the claims of the Turkmen ethnic group, which it champions.

The Kurdish withdrawal will ease tensions, but Turkey still has tens of thousands of troops on its border with Iraq.

It is those troops that give it a strong negotiating position. There's no sign that they're being stood down.

Kirkuk, northern Iraq :: Dumeetha Luthra :: 0500GMT

Kurdish troops have begun pulling out of Kirkuk. They have been under pressure to withdraw after Turkey threatened to send its own troops across the border.

The Kurds' arrival two days ago caused a political storm. Thousands flooded in as the Iraqi army withdrew. Turkey responded with threats of military force.

It is concerned that control of the oil rich city would give economic independence to the Kurds and spark separatist aspirations in its own large Kurdish population.

Kurdish officials have promised that all the Kurdish soldier will withdraw as more US troops move into the city.

US Central Command, Qatar :: Malcolm Brabant :: 0445GMT

Soldiers from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards were on patrol in Basra when they spotted a bank robbery in progress. The looters opened fire on the patrol and one soldier was shot in the stomach.

The dragoon guards returned fire killing five of the robbers. A British forces spokeswoman at Central Command in Doha said they had a robust response to looting. The spokeswoman said once word of the deaths spread she was sure it would have a deterrent effect although it wasn't done for that reason and she insisted British troops did not fire upon unarmed looters.

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