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Last Updated: Saturday, 5 July, 2003, 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK
Heat and violence hits US troops
By Keith Adams
BBC News, Baghdad

US soldier confronts Iraqi civilian in Baghdad
Us soldiers expected gratitude for removing Saddam
The recent spate of attacks on American troops in Iraq has had a profound effect on the morale of the US troops stationed here.

Even though they are an army of occupation, many soldiers I have spoken to are surprised at the upsurge in violence against them.

They were told that the people of this country would greet them as liberators.

"We're here to help them!" said a soldier on duty at a checkpoint near my hotel.

Of course I'm scared but God has a plan for everyone, and if it's my time to go, it's my time to go
A 21-year old newlywed soldier
Her commanding officer does not allow interviews with the media - but she did agree to speak to me anonymously.

She's only 21-years old, a newlywed from Oklahoma, but Iraq is proving no honeymoon.

"Of course I'm scared," she says "I wake every morning and wonder if I'm gonna still be alive by nightfall."

She tells me that life here would be a lot harder without her belief in God.

"I believe he has a plan for everyone, and if it's my time to go, it's my time to go."

Not all the troops were so philosophical.

Sneak attacks

Another anonymous soldier spoke to me through the window of his humvee armoured vehicle.

The humvee has become the ubiquitous icon of this occupation, a squat, toad-like jeep, from which the troops warily survey the city.

"I don't want say anything bad about these people, but the way they're attacking us is just so...sneaky," he says.

I don't want say anything bad about these people, but the way they're attacking us is just so sneaky
An anonymous US soldier
"Shooting at us from rooftops as we drive by ... and I wish they'd just like, stand up and fight us."

Street children are playing around us.

The troops are a constant source of curiosity for them - their minds are free from the significance of their presence.

"It's like with these kids. Some of the Fedayeen get them to distract us, then they attack us. I mean, using kids!"

When asked if he would prefer to be part of an international force, he doesn't hesitate.

"Yes. That would help," he says.

Difficult conditions

It was midnight, two hours past curfew, but the heat was almost as impressive, and oppressive, as it had been in the daytime.

The soldier stepped out of the humvee, his face sweating.

The US troops who work on the streets and the checkpoints wear their body armour at all times.

They're not giving us enough water
A US soldier who must wear body armour in 50 degrees Celsius
He revealed a little of the conditions the army were working under.

"It's terrible. We're sleeping in this heat without any air-conditioning. I just wake up in a puddle of sweat every morning... and they're not giving us enough water, just a bottle a day!"

The soldiers here expected gratitude for removing a tyrant who exploited and abused his people. But speaking to Iraqis, one gets a sense of their immense pride, and the scale of the humiliation they feel at having foreigners on their soil, running their country.

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04 Jul 03  |  Middle East
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04 Jul 03  |  Middle East

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