[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated:  Sunday, 13 April, 2003, 23:56 GMT 00:56 UK
Reporters' Log: War in Iraq
To bookmark or link to this page, use the address www.bbc.co.uk/reporters
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, 13 April

US Central Command, Qatar :: Jon Brain :: 2139GMT

US and Iraqi forces have been involved in clashes in and around Tikrit since early this morning.

This evening, it's reported that American troops on the ground are being supported by renewed air strikes. However, coalition commanders have described the resistance they're facing as patchy.

They believe much of the Republican Guard had already been killed by weeks of aerial bombardment or had simply fled.

But Tikrit, the Baath Party's power-base, is considered the last remaining stronghold of the regime, and it's thought it could still be home to paramilitaries loyal to Saddam Hussein.

Baghdad :: Ben Brown :: 2105GMT

Looters are still at work. We found them ransacking the German Embassy today.

But at last the frenzied anarchy that has gone gripped Baghdad looks like it is finally running out of steam.

Perhaps because there is nothing left to loot. Perhaps because American troops are now guarding banks, hospitals and other favoured targets of the thieves.

Another reason is the armed vigilantes in control of their suburbs - homeowners who will shoot thieves on sight.

Washington D C :: Jon Leyne :: 2030GMT

President Bush has repeated his warning to Syria not to provide a haven for leaders fleeing Iraq. He said Syria should not provide a harbour for members of the Baath Party, military officials or others in Iraq who needed to be held to account.

"We expect co-operation, and I'm hopeful we'll receive co-operation," he said.

Earlier, his Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said he had no doubt members of Saddam Hussein's regime had already fled to Syria.

So Washington is keeping up the pressure on Syria.

The aim is to remind governments around the world what can happen to them if they get on the wrong side of the United States.

Baghdad :: Caroline Hawley :: 1705GMT

Life is now beginning to return to some form of normality in parts of Baghdad. There's still no electricity in the city and looting has been continuing. But in some areas the US marines have now stepped in to try to protect public property, and are posted outside hospitals and banks.

Many in Baghdad, though, are furious that they didn't intervene earlier.

At one hospital this afternoon, looted medicines and hospital equipment were put on trolleys and wheeled back into the wards.

Volunteer doctors are trying to get the Iraqi health system back up and running as hundreds sign up to help rebuild the country.

Baghdad :: Andrew North :: 1640GMT

A Shia cleric, Sheikh Abu Mohammed Sadiq al-Maliki, has recorded a message to Baghdad residents for broadcast around the city by US psychological-operations units.

"Go back to your jobs and stop stealing. It's against your religion, whether you're Shia or Sunni," he says.

The cleric has already helped US marines patrolling in eastern parts of the city, but he says he's not an American stooge. As soon as US forces have finished clearing out the remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime, Sheikh Abu Mohammed told the BBC, they should leave.

Some may be tempted to draw comparisons with Afghanistan, when US forces were similarly forced to work with local leaders who often had very specific agendas of their own.

But with the security situation in Baghdad still very fragile, US commanders say for the moment they're willing to work with anyone who can help return the city to some kind of peace and stability.

US Central Command, Qatar :: Jon Brain :: 1448GMT

It's being reported that a half-brother of Saddam Hussein, Watban al-Takriti, has been captured in northern Iraq in an apparent attempt to reach Syria.

Kirkuk, northern Iraq :: Dumeetha Luthra :: 1424GMT

Kirkuk's Arabs are being threatened with eviction. Returning Kurdish families are demanding their old homes back.

They've told Arab families to move out or be kicked out. The Arabs are not originally from here, but were brought in by Saddam Hussein to change the ethnic mix of the region.

Now they've been here for more than a decade and say they've nowhere else to go. So far the situation's remained calm.

The Arabs have not threatened to fight back. But it's certainly raising ethnic tensions in a city where the security situation is still fragile.

Jerusalem :: Simon Wilson :: 1414GMT

The Defence Ministry says Israelis no longer need to carry gas masks or keep a sealed room in their houses.

This is the formal announcement, but privately many Israelis have long since reached the same conclusion - that this time there would be no Iraqi missile attacks.

Few here carried their masks with them as recommended, perhaps because of the mixed messages from those in power.

The Defence Minister has been taking his mask to every meeting, while cabinet colleagues arrived empty-handed.

The alert is estimated to have cost Israel more than a million dollars a day and there are already calls for an investigation as to whether it was all really necessary.

Early on Israel accepted the principle that it should provide gas masks for Palestinians in areas under its control. It was confirmed today that in the end none were issued.

US Central Command, Qatar :: Jon Brain :: 1302GMT

US Marines arrived in Tikrit a short time ago, having made a rapid advance from Samarra, 40 miles to the south. It's understood that so far they're not encountering any resistance.

That could be because much of the Republican Guard assigned to defend the town had already been killed by American airstrikes or had simply fled.

During their advance to Tikrit the forces rescued six American prisoners of war from an unspecified locale north of Baghdad.

The six had been listed as missing in action since early on in the war. They're all said to be in good health.

US Central Command, Qatar :: Paul Adams :: 1204GMT

Seven prisoners have been rescued just north of Baghdad by Task Force Tripoli which is making its way towards the town of Tikrit.

Somewhere along that road they located the prisoners. They are being taken back to Baghdad. We do not know exactly who they are.

Are they some of the missing who were captured in an ambush right at the beginning of this campaign near Nasiriyah?

That should become clearer later in the day.

Baghdad :: Caroline Hawley :: 1154GMT

For the first time since American troops took over Baghdad ordinary people are now beginning to venture out onto streets that were the preserve of looters.

Some shops have reopened. Local religious leaders have been trying to recover looted goods, storing them in mosques until they can be returned.

People who fled the war are now coming back to the city but many are still angry at the Americans for allowing the chaos for the past few days.

US Central Command, Qatar :: Jon Brain :: 1112GMT

Central Command has been at pains to stress that the fall of Tikrit won't signal the end of the war. But there is now a very real sense that the last significant stage of the military conflict is imminent.

US Marines are rapidly advancing towards the town from Samarra, which is just 40 miles to the south. What isn't clear is what level of opposition they'll encounter when they reach Tikrit.

It's been reported that much of the Republican Guard unit has either been decimated by airstrikes or simply fled.

American forces could face determined resistance from paramilitaries still loyal to Saddam Hussein. Central Command has dismissed reports that negotiations are underway in the town for a surrender to US forces.

Mosul, northern Iraq :: John Simpson :: 1021GMT

The situation here has been calmer today. Shops are opening. There are a lot of American forces on the streets. I'm phoning from a car as we drive through the city.

We've been following a convoy of American vehicles. It's been quite interesting to see the response of people here.

Many are very grateful that the Americans have shown themselves on the streets in sufficient numbers to calm the city down.

But there are also some quite hostile comments, talking about the "occupiers". The mood is not uniformly one of welcome.

There was a lot of anger yesterday that the Americans weren't here in larger numbers. But now that they are here the city is moving towards some sort of normality.

Baghdad :: Caroline Hawley :: 0937GMT

Today the Marines are trying to step up their efforts to restore law and order here.

There have been aerial patrols. Marines tell me they are now stationed outside two hospitals to prevent looting.

And they're beginning work to restore electricity and water to the city. This is something that the people of Baghdad desperately want to see.

US Central Command, Qatar :: Paul Adams :: 0918GMT

There is a very serious situation developing in Najaf. If it continues to develop the way it is now it could wreck the entire Anglo-American project.

The house of Ayatollah Ali Sistani - a pro-western Shiite cleric - is being besieged at the moment by a mob who are telling him he has 48 hours to get out of the country.

A few days ago we say another western Shiite cleric Abdul Majid al-Khoei murdered by a mob.

This suggests there is an effort in Najaf - the heart of the Shiite world - to remove any pro-western voices at all. American troops are in that area but don't appear to be going to the defence of Ayatollah Sistani.

Baghdad :: Caroline Hawley :: 0835GMT

The Americans have now started to try to reign in the chaos that's followed the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime.

Marines have been stationed outside at least two hospitals to prevent looting and they say they've begun work to restore electricity and water.

Some 300 civil servants, including policemen, have come forward to help them as volunteers. But restoring order to Baghdad will be a massive task.

Government buildings have been ransacked over the past few days. In many areas ordinary people have barricaded their streets to keep looters out.

Iraqis are desperate now for the Americans to fill the dangerous vacuum the ousting of Saddam Hussein has left here.

Eastern Baghdad :: Andrew North :: 0600GMT

Overnight the crackle of machine gun fire echoed around the industrial buildings and residential areas of eastern Baghdad every twenty minutes or so.

The early morning call to prayer was partially drowned out by one sharp exchange. But there was far less firing than on previous nights.

US marines patrolling these eastern districts are hoping that their presence alone is deterring what remnants there are of the Fedayeen from fighting on.

But although residents who are for the most part friendly to the US troops have set up barricades across their street, there's still a desperate need for some kind of policing.

Kirkuk :: Dumeetha Luthra :: 0410GMT

I've been at both checkpoints on the edge of the town early today, and I hear that overnight there have been large convoys of Kurdish soldiers leaving Kirkuk.

They are expected to totally withdraw within the next day or so.

Within Kirkuk, tension between Kurds and Arabs is there in isolated incidents.

And what I'm hearing is that as you go south towards Tikrit, there have been quite a number of incidents where Kurds have gone into Arab villages and looted them.

The Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani is believed to have said on Saturday that these aren't Kurdish soldiers and you have the right to kill them, and this is exactly what the Arabs have been doing.

There were two people killed on Saturday in these sorts of incidents.

Washington, D C :: Jon Leyne :: 0105GMT

We've been hearing a lot of warnings from the United States to Syria - so much so that some people here have begun to wonder whether Syria might be the next target for the US military.

That is not my belief. There is no evidence that the military is in any way being prepared for a strike on Syria.

But I think Washington is trying to get its message across, that now it has been successful in Iraq it wants its will to be obeyed in other countries in the Middle East that have traditionally been hostile to the United States.

US Central Command, Qatar :: Malcolm Brabant :: 0015GMT

The surrender of Iraqi General Amir al-Saadi, the man who liaised with UN weapons inspectors on behalf of Saddam Hussein, is a very big prize indeed for the Americans.

It was a pretty astute move on his part to surrender, and it's very interesting that he did so with a German television company recording his every move. Presumably he wants to appeal to Germany in a fairly subliminal way, because they were opposed to the war.

What was really interesting about this whole incident was that he said before handing himself over that he has been truthful in the past and Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction, so his interrogation will be very intriguing.

One has to have a fairly sceptical eye on what he has to say, because what the Iraqis want is to maintain the moral high ground, and it would suit their purposes if no weapons of mass destruction could be found.

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.



Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific