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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 April, 2003, 21:30 GMT 22:30 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.

Tuesday, 15 April

London :: Heba Saleh :: 1938GMT

Mosul has been tense since a shooting incident involving American troops and a crowd hostile to both American troops and a governor newly appointed by the Kurdish Democratic Party, the KDP.

There are reports that up to 15 people were killed and around a hundred injured.

US forces have denied firing towards the crowd and say they were returning fire from two gunmen.

The Pentagon :: Nick Childs :: 1938GMT

With the Bush administration clearly trying to apply diplomatic pressure on Damascus, the US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld said US forces had cut off a pipeline which had been used to carry Iraqi oil into Syria in violation of UN sanctions.

But he said he didn't know if all shipments of Iraqi oil into Syria had been cut off. On Iraq's political future, Mr Rumsfeld said that would be up to the Iraqi people, but he made it clear that he didn't see a place for the Baath Party which had been in control there.

The Pentagon says there are now only a few Iraqi towns being contested for control and Mr Rumsfeld said Washington has been talking to a number of countries about joining the stabilisation effort in Iraq.

Baghdad :: Owen Bennett-Jones :: 1923GMT

The Americans certainly need to get a greater presence on the ground. There aren't enough troops or patrols to go around and make sure that it is safe for the people of Baghdad to move around the city.

It isn't critical yet because people have food stocks to last a week or two. People aren't yet reaching the point where they have to go out.

They've been frisking people coming in and out. There's a growing distrust really between the American forces and the people of Baghdad.

There is growing anti-American sentiment here. The people are more vocal and angry.

Kuwait City :: Clive Myrie :: 1905GMT

Ali Ismail Abbas is expected to spend the next few weeks recovering from his horrific injuries in a specialist burns unit here, one of the best in the Middle East and Europe.

Based at the Ib'n Sina hospital, it's equipped with the latest technology to deal with the most severe burns. Ali's room is in the intensive care unit and he will join another five Iraqi children who have already been airlifted out of Baghdad.

They include Saad Mohammed, who is 11-year-old, the victim of a bomb blast that has left him blind in one eye with multiple fractures and burns to his chest.

In another room lies little Farah Arkan Mustafa, just four-years-old. Her house was bombed in the war, leaving her with extensive burns and a dead mother and father.

Hanover :: Ray Furlong :: 1826GMT

Tony Blair and Gerhard Schroeder, the German chancellor, have indicated they are ready to reach agreement on the rebuilding of Iraq after a meeting in Hanover.

They said the important thing now was to deal with the problems which have arisen since the war - the humanitarian situation, the lack of law and order and crucially, long-term rebuilding.

This is where there is potential for further dispute over the scope of the UN's role and the two leaders sought to ward it off.

Mr Blair said it was important to agree in principle on what he called a key role for the United Nations - adding that the details would be discussed later.

Damascus :: Kim Ghattas :: 1729GMT

There were long articles in all three state-controlled newspapers today, quoting the German Foreign Minister saying he didn't want to see another confrontation in the area.

A long list of people denouncing the US allegations was also featured. These statements are in the press perhaps to reassure the Syrian people that they aren't alone.

Tikrit :: Caroline Hawley :: 1647GMT

The Americans are still in the centre of Tikrit, and camped out in one of the presidential compounds.

They're in full control of the city, but earlier four people were arrested we understand, for trying to plant a car bomb on the outskirts of the city.

Baghdad :: Hugh Sykes :: 1625GMT

The Americans issued a sheet of paper today, Arabic on one side, English on the other.

"Message to the citizens of Baghdad. The Coalition forces make the following appeal in the interests of your safety. Please avoid leaving your homes during the night hours after the evening prayers and before the call to morning prayers.

"During this time terrorist forces and various criminal elements are know to move through the area and engage in hostile acts.

"During all hours please approach Coalition military positions with extreme caution. Make it as clear as possible to the forces manning those positions that you are not a threat".

Nasiriya :: Damian Grammaticas :: 1610GMT

There were 80 participants in this meeting that lasted for three hours. That doesn't leave many minutes for each participant to have their say.

The Americans say this is a "get to know you session", putting all these people round a table for the first time. And telling them they need to agree on an Iraqi-led administration, and to some fundamental principles based on democracy and human rights.

Basra :: Rupert Wingfield-Hayes :: 1547GMT

General Brims is adamant. There is no humanitarian crisis in Basra he said. People have enough to eat, and water and electricity are being restored to more parts of the city by the day.

If there is a crisis he said, its of a society deeply traumatized by twenty years of abuse at the hands of Saddam Hussein's regime. And that, thanks to the British troops General Brims said, had stopped.

CentCom, Doha :: Jon Brain :: 1512GMT

The location of the Iraqi meeting was as symbolic as the occasion itself. In a shadow of a four-thousand-year-old temple in the ancient city of Ur, the birthplace of civilisation.

An air-conditioned marquee hosted what was described as the birth of a new democratic Iraq. Around eighty politicians, exiles and tribal leaders gathered to take the first tentative steps towards planning the future of the country after the rule of Saddam Hussein.

The retired American general who has the job of running Iraq in the short term, Jay Garner, spoke of the significance of the occasion:

But the project has already been undermined by the suspicions among some that the US government is planning to impose its own favoured leadership candidates. President Bush's special envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, tried to reassure them.

Organisers say today's conference wasn't about taking any decisions. The important thing was simply getting Iraqis talking to each other again.

CentCom, Doha :: Paul Adams :: 1413GMT

This was the first briefing in three weeks in which there was no mention of gunfire. So that's an indication that as far as the military are concerned, real combat is over.

The Foreign Secretary Jack Straw passed through this base this morning. He was asked repeatedly whether he agreed with the American assessment about chemical weapons, and the charge that members of Saddam Hussein's leadership might be being harboured in Syria.

For quite diplomatic reasons he preferred only to say that Syria had some serious questions that it needed to look at and come up with answers for. He didn't endorse the American account in any way.

Hanover :: Ray Furlong :: 1344GMT

Talks between Tony Blair and Gerard Schroeder are taking place at Hanover's airport hotel, and are due to last just one hour. At the top of the agenda is mending fences. Germany strongly opposed Britain over the use of force in Iraq. Both leaders want not only to put that experience behind them, but also to avoid a rerun of it in discussions over rebuilding Iraq.

Tikrit :: Caroline Hawley :: 1320GMT

It's a very bizarre feeling, marines showing you what they say were Saddam Hussein's mistresses' quarters. They're very luxurious. I saw vast marble baths, a gold plated lift, and chandeliers.

I spoke to one former policeman who said he'd been sacked and jailed after he tried to stop one of Saddam Hussein's relatives raping a woman at a party. So people are just beginning to talk now about some of the excesses of Saddam's regime.

Riyadh :: Bridget Kendall :: 1300GMT

Officially the point of this Middle Eastern tour by Jack Straw is to send a signal that Britain is determined to consult widely about Iraq's future, especially in the Arab world.

But behind that is a more complicated message.

On the one hand Britain is anxious to reduce public hostility to any interim rule in Iraq that looks like an American occupation.

The other message from Mr Straw is that the patience of the United States and the United Kingdom has its limits. New UN resolutions to endorse Iraq were desirable he said, but if any member of the Security Council wanted to play games by threatening to use their veto, then the US and the UK would look for alternative solutions.

Nasariyah :: Adam Mynott :: 1203GMT

I think there's enormous scepticism because of the speed at which this process is happening. America and the Coalition forces are keen that it should happen quickly.

But I think some people here think that this process hasn't been adequately thought through. That maybe the wrong names have been pushed forward for the new administration.

Baghdad :: Richard Galpin :: 1150GMT

Iraqi policemen have got to move quickly following the decision by the American military to reinstate the police force. We saw one patrol set off from the National Police College in what was clearly a deliberate show of force. The convoy was led through the streets by the US marines driving armoured vehicles.

Moscow :: Stephen Dalziel :: 1117GMT

The US Ambassador to Russia, Alexander Vershbow, denied reports that the United States was now threatening Syria. And he insisted that the incident when US soldiers fired on a convoy of Russian diplomats leaving Baghdad was unintentional.

By playing down the questions raised in recent days about links between the Russian and Iraqi secret services, the ambassador is trying to take the heat out of a potentially serious diplomatic row.

Jerusalem :: Barbara Plett :: 1101GMT

Ariel Sharon said Israel wants heavy American pressure on Syria to dismantle Palestinian militant groups in Damascus. Also the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon, where Syria is the main power broker.

Israel believes Damascus controls Hezbollah as a proxy army on the Lebanese/Israeli border, and supplies it with weapons coming from Iran.

Baghdad :: Owen Bennett-Jones :: 1030GMT

This is certainly not a secure city at the moment.

People on the ground are getting very angry. They say their food stocks are beginning to run out. They stocked up food for the anticipated siege of Baghdad and they are still living off that.

There are very few shops open - I'm told a butcher opened and I think there's one restaurant in the whole of Baghdad, for five million people, it just doesn't add up. People are getting worried that they will not have enough food for their families.

There are extraordinary scenes at the hospitals - doctors in their white coats with Kalashnikovs trying to stop people getting in and inside the hospitals the conditions are absolutely awful.

Tikrit :: John Simpson:: 1020GMT

Life is coming back into the city of Tikrit. People left the town because they were afraid of some last big battle, which of course didn't happen, but are slowly coming back.

There was a great deal of tension here last night, all sorts of stories about snipers, most of which turned out not to be true.

In a way Tikrit is an easy place in a way to police, it's a small town relatively speaking, it's the town where Saddam has poured in lots of money over the years.

There are difficult places, such as Mosul, which is perhaps the most difficult city in the country in terms of its ethnic and political mix and when you look at places like that you wonder how that's going to be policed and that's going to be a real problem.

Saudi Arabia :: Bridget Kendall :: 1005GMT

So far on Mr Straw's tour of the Gulf, he said he had not met a single leader who had not hoped and prayed for Saddam Hussein to be gone.

But Saudi Arabia is different.

Though helpful in private, during the war, its public stand was unambiguous, and Mr Straw acknowledged that as far as Arab public opinion went, there was still understandable apprehension about the conflict.

But his blunt message throughout this trip has been that like it or not, there is now a new reality in Iraq, and the US and Britain won't be deterred from their plans to lead its reconstruction, whatever critics elsewhere in the world make of it.

Even so, courting Saudi Arabia's approval is important to Britain. A powerful Arab voice, its endorsement of post-war Iraq is seen as critical.

Baghdad :: Owen Bennett-Jones :: 0935GMT

American troops in Baghdad have started handing out leaflets appealing to the people of the city stay at home during the night and to return to work in the daytime.

The leaflet, written English and Arabic, says that in the hours between evening and morning prayers, terrorist forces associated with the former regime of Saddam Hussein, as well as some criminals, are engaging in hostile acts.

It also appeals to the people of the city to keep out of the way of the coalition forces and to move their cars to the side of the road whenever they see an American military convoy.

Qatar :: Paul Adams :: 0925GMT

There's no real conventional military business left any more. What we are seeing are a variety of places in which the security situation remains unstable.

There are concerns for example about what happened to eighty suicide vests that are thought to have been missing from a cache found in Baghdad.

They are braced here for the fact that for weeks if not months there may be low level violence going on but what I don't think they feel there is any more of is organised resistance.

Baghdad :: Lyse Doucet :: 0910GMT

The war is still continuing here. About 300 yards from here an Abrahams tank just fired off two rounds. There was an assault earlier this morning. The Americans used Apache helicopters, they were hovering over the city and then opened fire.

There have been explosions all morning here including the sounds of rocket-propelled grenades which would have come from Iraqi's so clearly the combat role still isn't finished.

In the midst of all this, in the square just below me hundreds of Iraqis have been gathering saying they want electricity and water to be restored.

Nasiriya :: Jennifer Glasse :: 0840GMT

The first steps towards establishing a new government in Iraq are taking place in Nasiriya.

The meeting of opposition leaders is being chaired by Zalmay Khalilzad, the American special envoy to George Bush. For some former exiles, it's their first time inside Iraq for decades.

They're hoping to begin to lay the framework for a new government in Iraq but finding a consensus will be challenging.

Jay Garner, the former American general who leads the team that will help govern Iraq until an Iraqi leadership is formed says he expects there'll be disagreements: "I know there'll be a lot of pushing and pulling, but I think at the end of the day, the people will prevail and the real thing is to get the economy moving... that's what we're going to try to do."

Tikrit :: Caroline Hawley :: 0814GMT

Tikrit remains for the most part a ghost town. Shops are shut and the few people trying to move around are being body-searched by the marines.

People here are beginning to speak out about the excesses of Saddam Hussein's regime.

One former police officer told how he'd been sacked from his job and jailed when he'd tried to prevent a relative of Saddam Hussein from raping a woman at a public birthday celebration for the Iraqi leader. He said another relative of Saddam had pumped thirty bullets into a man who had refused to fetch him water.

The policeman is now hoping to help form the nucleus of a new police force.

Tikrit :: Feargal Keane :: 0808GMT

It is pretty tense here. The Marines have set up checkpoints at either end of the town.

One of the things they are most worried about is the damage that can be done by a single individual or a couple of people - suicide bombers, snipers coming in and taking pot-shots. In terms of the big picture though it is much, much calmer.

Baghdad :: Nick Springate :: 0725GMT

Demonstrations are taking place in Baghdad, calling for law and order to be restored in Iraq.

They are asking the Americans to stop the looting, the thieving and stop the constant danger and fear which has gripped the city.

The other thing they are calling for is a new free Iraq. They don't want a new regime.

Baghdad :: Nick Springate :: 0709GMT

There is still a problem with law and order here. The American forces are trying to put out the message that looting is not acceptable. I saw them make some arrests.

They are hoping today that over 300 local police officers will turn up today at the police college in Baghdad.

There is still the sound of gunfire, still civil disorder in the city.

The people in Baghdad are happy the regime has gone, they are relieved. Now they are asking for change and stability and they are worried they are not seeing that change happening here.

Qatar :: Malcolm Brabant :: 0640GMT

The Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has maintained the diplomatic pressure on Syria and has urged Damascus to reveal whether it has taken in fugitives from Saddam Hussein's regime and whether it has chemical weapons.

Mr Straw, speaking on a visit to US Central Command in Qatar, said Syria's President and Foreign Minister were intelligent people who had the future interest and welfare of their people at heart and that given the new changed reality in the region, it shouldn't be too difficult for Syria to co-operate with the United Kingdom and the United States.

What Mr Straw failed to mention is what Britain and the US will do if Damascus fails to answer questions and co-operate over Iraqi fugitives and chemical weapons.

Tikrit :: Caroline Hawley :: 0618GMT

It seems fairly peaceful here today. The marines are in the centre of town and checking all vehicles. We heard a lot of mortar fire during the night but the resistance seems to be very limited.

The US troops here think that most of the Iraqi army just fled and that the threat to them is

There is the odd person coming through American checkpoints waving white flags and looking for food and water.

We've been camping in an abandoned police station overnight and it is fascinating. A lot of documents, including secret documents have been left here. They detail how the people of the town were to defend the area from attack, including aerial attack.

No one knows where Saddam Hussein is, when you ask any of the locals they throw their arms in the air and say gone, all gone.

Nasiriya :: Damian Grammaticas :: 0607GMT

Last week there was a lot of talk about this meeting, a lot of focus on it. Now it is being played down, keen to be realistic about what the meeting will achieve.

US officials will meet both local leaders and exiled Iraqis who have been brought back here.

It's a get to know you session, a feeling your way from here event. The Americans are very keen to be seen to listen.

Some groups aren't coming, the official reason for one such group is that the security situation is not good enough for them to come here yet, but this particular group are aligned with Iran and don't want to be seen to be in any kind of negotiations with the Americans.

Baghdad :: David Willis :: 0551GMT

Security remains a key concern here. Overnight American marines have extended the security cordon around this hotel, following intermittent gunfire overnight.

They've also been searching room by room this morning, looking for somebody, although we're not quite sure whom.

Berlin :: Ray Furlong :: 0549GMT

Tony Blair arrives in Germany today for talks with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder about the future of Iraq.

I think France, Germany and Britain want the UN to have a role in mapping out the future Iraq, more so than the US. Tony Blair must try and bridge this difference between the USA and the European countries.

I think people here still feel the war was ill considered. They say you've got rid of Saddam but that's all you've done, there is looting, civil chaos and little humanitarian aid getting to those who need it. The belief is the whole thing was ill thought out.

Tony Blair and Gerhard Schroeder will also use this meeting to demonstrate that the relationship between London and Berlin has escaped unscathed by the war in Iraq.

Baghdad :: Andrew Gilligan :: 0547GMT

Although the looting has stopped here the place is a tremendous mess and normal life is completely at a stop.

Most people hated Saddam but they're not really very keen on being part of what they see as an American colony. I think if the Americans can't get some sort of credible Iraqi administration going, opposition could build up very quickly here.

Dearborn, Michigan :: Jon Leyne :: 0546GMT

I'm in the Iraqi kebab restaurant in Dearborn, which has the biggest Iraqi population in the USA. The residents here are watching developments in their home country very carefully and are concerned about the future of their homeland.

Tikrit :: John Simpson :: 0535GMT

There wasn't really any resistance here at all. There was a big sense of threat here yesterday - when I came into the city the marines were very jumpy indeed and a man shaking out a carpet on the top floor of a block of flats nearby was lucky not to get himself shot as a sniper.

I thought that this was where the final showdown would be but it didn't happen. It looks like they've all scarpered.

I talked to a general in the Republican Guard two nights ago and he said that in his area, which is Mosul, that one of the top aides under Saddam had gone through scooping up the gold and dollar reserves out of the local bank and had gone straight to Syria.

Nasiriya :: Adam Mynott :: 0512GMT

I don't think this meeting today is going to be one where any decisions are made. This is largely a cosmetic exercise.

The big problem here in Nasiriya is that there is no electricity, that means there is nothing to pump the water around and people are getting a bit fed up.

They've had the promises from the coalition that they were here to make their lives better but for them at the moment life is not better it's a lot worse. A lot of their homes have been destroyed and the infrastructure they rely on has been devastated and they want to see action first.

Democracy and how they are going to be represented in the future, that comes pretty low on their list of priorities.

Qatar :: Dominic Hughes :: 0342GMT

The aircraft carriers USS Kittyhawk and USS Constellation, accompanied by their battle groups of cruisers and destroyers, are to leave the Gulf as early as this week.

Their withdrawal, along with some land-based bombers and fighters, shows how the campaign in Iraq is developing.

The carriers provided many of the aircraft that undertook the massive bombardment that effectively destroyed the ability of Iraqi commanders to organise a proper defence.

Now though, the campaign is focusing on reconstruction and law and order - so the US 1st Armoured Division will deploy from Germany with military police, engineers and civil affairs units.

And the US still has a large force in the region. One carrier remains in the Gulf and two more are still in the eastern Mediterranean.

Meanwhile, the search continues for weapons of mass destruction, with interest focusing on the reported discovery of a group of containers in southern Iraq.

Basra :: Ryan Dilley :: 0148GMT

The chaos which followed the ending of Saddam Hussein's rule caused some ordinary Iraqis to indulge in an orgy of looting.

Air conditioners, office chairs and even pot plants were carried away on people's backs. As normality returns, some looters are having second thoughts about their booty.

I spoke to people who had been told by the local imam that what they had done in taking property was wrong, and they had now returned hundreds of items.

The yard at the side of the Junaina mosque is slowly filling with a bizarre array of loot.

Sitting in the hot sun are tins of paint, street lights, desks, electric motors and a sickly yellow three-piece. Behind the mosque's locked gates, sacks of food have been stacked.

A committee is being formed to decide what should be done with them, although many damaged items can only be destined for the dump.






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