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Last Updated:  Thursday, 20 March, 2003, 08:06 GMT
Scots in the front line
Our emphasis will be on trying to save as many Iraqi lives as possible
Major Aidan Stephen

Scottish-based regiments are among those in the front line of the war in Iraq.

Challenger tanks of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards are helping spearhead the move into Iraq, backed by the 1st Battalion, the Black Watch.

Both are part of the 7th Armoured Brigade, better known as the Desert Rats.

Among the tasks of the Dragoon Guards is reconnaissance, sniffing out Saddam Hussein's initial lines of defence.

Sergeant Frank Mack, from Leith, is leading a section into Southern Iraq to collate information vital to commanders as they decide how and where to deploy Challenger 2 tanks.

'Timely information'

He said: "We aim to provide accurate and timely information so that a general picture of what lies over the border can be built up.

"We are generally the first to come across any obstacles which might lie in the path of the battlegroup, such as rivers or anti-tank minefields."

Lance Corporal Bruce Barclay, from Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire, said the time was right for America and Britain to strike.

A Challenger tank heads north

"Saddam has had enough time and now he's really starting to take the mickey," he stated.

There is clearly a good-going banter among the Scottish troops.

Sgt Mack said: "There are boys from the east and west of Scotland here.

"The lads from the east are the brains behind the operation, while the Glaswegian and west coast boys provide the brawn."

However, his theory is discounted by Corporal John Rigby, from Easterhouse.

"Without the boys from Glasgow, the whole thing would collapse!"

'Stay at home'

The Desert Rats are handing out thousands of leaflets promising safe treatment to surrendering Iraqi soldiers.

Other leaflets telling civilians to stay at home and offering food, water and help are also being distributed by the Army.

The latter feature a picture of a British soldier with his right arm placed across his chest - a traditional Arab sign of friendship - above the words: "For the moment stay away from combat troops."

Another leaflet is intended to direct those who do flee towards refugee camps.

There is a lot of anticipation here
Wing Commander David Bye
RAF Lossiemouth
It depicts a ration pack, a bottle of water and a road sign on one side and a map on the other. Instructions say: "For food, water and help follow the sign below".

Major Aidan Stephen, who is organising humanitarian relief for the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards battlegroup, said that the leaflets would help reduce casualty numbers and prevent unnecessary suffering.

"Our emphasis will be on trying to save as many Iraqi lives as possible.

"These leaflets seek to make it clear that it is the Iraqi regime, not the people, that we are fighting."

Tornado ground and air attack planes from RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Leuchars are in operation.

There are about 100 planes from Lossiemouth, Leuchars and Kinloss in the Gulf.

BBC Scotland's Jackie O'Brien
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13 Mar 03 |  Scotland

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