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 Wednesday, March 26, 2003



AL-JAZEERA has a website in English at

Link to a mysterious Iraqi weblogger who calls himself Salam Pax, writing from the heart of Baghdad at

Civilian Casualty Update

LATEST U.N. Security Council Tuesday agreed to requests from the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement for all members of the world organization to join in a formal debate on the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq to unseat President Saddam Hussein.The open meeting was to begin at 3 p.m. EST Wednesday.

A mysterious Iraqi who calls himself Salam Pax, writing a Web log from the heart of Baghdad, has developed a large internet following with his wry accounts of daily life in a city under US bombardment. Salam Pax, a pseudonym crafted from the Arabic and Latin words for peace, came back on line today after a two-day break because of interruptions in internet access. Salam, who writes in English, is the only resident of Iraq known to be filing accounts of the war directly to the web.

Two British tank crew members were killed by "friendly fire" from another British tank near Iraq's southern city of Basra, officials said on Tuesday.The latest casualties in Britain's accident-prone military campaign took to 22 the number of British servicemen who have now been listed as dead or missing in the U.S.-led war against Baghdad. Only two of those were killed in action.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan told U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday that the United States is legally responsible for providing humanitarian aid to Iraqis "gravely affected by the war" in areas controlled by coalition forces. Annan stressed to Rice that the United Nations was prepared to provide humanitarian assistance but could not until security conditions allowed the safe return of U.N. staff, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said. "Until then, humanitarian assistance would have to be provided by the United States and its coalition partners in those areas under their control," he said. Russia and other Security Council members emphasize that under the Geneva Conventions, occupying forces are responsible for providing humanitarian goods to sustain the population.

Fierce sandstorm sweeps through Baghdad. Visibility severely reduced by the sandstorm and by pollution caused by oil set ablaze

Royal Marines were deployed to Iraq's border with Iran yesterday in a move that will unnerve Teheran's regime, which fears encirclement by American-led forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. But with Iranian troops manning positions on the other side of the Shatt al-Arab waterway, British forces face a highly sensitive task. Tensions were illustrated by a succession of border incidents. A rocket struck an Iranian oil refinery depot in Abadan, just across from Basra, on Friday injuring two people while there were reports on Monday that Iranian forces had fired on British troops on the Faw peninsula.

US Coalition forces have advanced to within 90 kilometres of Baghdad. They´ve already been engaged in heavy exchanges of gunfire with Saddam Hussein's elite Republican Guard manning defensive positions around the Iraqi capital

An Iraqi committed a suicide attack in the southern region of Fao overnight and destroyed a tank of the US-British alliance, an Iraqi military spokesman said Tuesday. "The first suicide attack was carried out this night," Hazem al-Rawi told a press conference in Baghdad. The attack was carried out in the Faw peninsula which British forces say they have secured. An Iraqi civilian "penetrated behind enemy lines and destroyed a tank", the spokesman said, without giving details.

An F-16 fighter jet mistakenly bombed a Patriot missile battery in Iraq, knocking out its radar but causing no casualties, a US defense official said Tuesday.The incident occurred Monday 1230 GMT about 30 miles from An Najaf, the official said."It was hit. Nobody was injured or killed," said the official, who asked not to be identified.

Both sides are girding for the coming battle of Baghdad as US armoured columns advanced from two directions, coming within 80km of the capital before sandstorm - and a formidable Iraqi army - forced a delay. The storm has cut visibility to as few as 20 metres, severely restricting the operations of air support. Columns of tanks, artillery and other vehicles were reduced to a crawl. Reports suggest the storms may intensify and possibly hamper operations for several days.

Thousands of Iraqi exiles have been returning home over the past week from Jordan, with many insisting they want to defend their country against US and British "invaders." Jordanian records show that 5,284 Iraqis have crossed the desert border overland into Iraq since March 16, Col Ahmad al-Hazaymeh, director of Jordan's al Karama border post, said yesterday. Iraq's consular office in Amman said yesterday it issued at least 3,000 temporary passports for exiled Iraqis in the past three days. Of those, half have already returned to Iraq, spokesman Jawad al-Ali said.

Iran, which has reported several violations of its airspace by U.S and British jets attacking Iraq, said on Monday it might fire on aircraft which enter its skies. But it played down the significance of apparently errant missiles landing on its territory and said such incidents were the natural consequence of living next door to a war zone.

Tensions between Turkey and the United States were dramatically heightened yesterday with President George Bush warning its NATO ally to keep out of Iraq and the Turkish Prime Minister replying within hours why his country had to do the opposite."My point is that those who live far away ... cannot have the same sensitivities [as Turkey]. For us this is a fire that has broken out in our neighbourhood," the Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said in Turkey's first state of the nation televised address.He cited Australia as being among countries involved in the Iraqi war which were largely immune to its direct economic and political aftermath.

A humanitarian disaster is looming in the city of Basra, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) says. More than a million civilians have been without clean water or electricity in the city since Friday as fighting rages outside.The United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, made an urgent appeal yesterday for water supplies to be rushed in.Desperate civilians are drinking water from the river in Basra, the United Nations Children's Fund said. Raw sewage is dumped in the river, rousing fears of a disease outbreak.The Wafa al-Qaed water treatment plant, which usually supplies most of Basra, has been out of action since Friday when the electricity cables to the plant were destroyed.

Coalition forces have quelled Iraqi resistance in the key port of Umm Qasr which is now under "total control", a senior British officer told AFP on Tuesday."Umm Qasr is under total control. The clean-up operation is over," said the officer on the sixth day of the war.

Syria protested to the US and Britain last night after a US missile killed five Syrian workers and injured 10 who were fleeing the war in a bus.The vehicle, which was carrying 37 passengers, was struck on the Iraqi side of the Syrian border on Sunday morning as it stopped for a rest break in Rutba.The Pentagon admitted last night that the bus had been accidentally bombed as it was crossing a bridge.

34 die as US missiles hit wrong target : Four missiles hit Khormal, a large neighbouring village in northern Iraq. Komala's military garrison was also hit, killing Mr Saeed and at least 33 other people. As volunteers pulled corpses and body parts from the smouldering ruins of the compound yesterday, Mr Saeed's widow Aisha and 10 children wanted to know only one thing: why had America killed him? Refugees who poured out of Khormal yesterday also wanted to know why a superpower that prided itself on the accuracy of its weaponry appeared to have got it wrong. "The US has committed an injustice. It needs to be more careful about civilians," Tafir Abdulla said, as he fled town in a lorry loaded with his belongings.

Guerrilla tactics vs. US war plan: Casualties mount for US as fedayeen fighters mix among civilians and gird for urban warfare.Some of the toughest Iraqi forces - Republican Guard units and the paramilitary "Fedayeen Saddam" - have come out to meet US and British forces, mingling among civilians, attacking supply-and-maintenance units, and forcing the kind of close-in urban fight the US and its allies had hoped to avoid.

The United Nations refused yesterday to surrender responsibility for disarming Iraq to the United States and Britain, with Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General, saying he expected UN weapons inspections to resume. Mr. Annan said according to rules set by the UN Security Council only UN weapons inspectors can determine whether Iraq is clean."[The inspections] have only been suspended temporarily because it's inoperable given the situation on the ground," Mr. Annan said. He added the inspectors planned to resume their work as soon as it was safe to return.His statement sets the stage for more friction with Washington, which has been quietly hiring its own experts to verify whether weapons found violate the 1991 Gulf War truce banning chemical, biological or nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

Al-Jazeera went live early yesterday with its English-language Web site -- and the Qatar-based satellite network immediately assumed a posture likely to provoke Western readers. The site ( has promised to offer a different perspective than those of Western media and has stuck to its word. Its graphic photos of dead U.S. soldiers, pointed headlines and opinionated articles -- many of them without reporters' bylines -- will provide plenty of fodder for critics of the Middle Eastern news organization. The content is produced separately from its Arabic-language counterpart.

Two pilots from the Apache helicopter captured by the Iraqis

Iraqi state television on Monday showed two men said to have been the U.S. crew of an Apache helicopter forced down during heavy fighting in central Iraq. The men were identified as Chief Warrant Officer Ronald D. Young Jr., 26, of Lithia Springs, Ga., and Chief Warrant Officer David S. Williams, 30, of Orlando, Fla. Iraq's U.N. Ambassador Mohammed Al-Douri said Monday his government would allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit the prisoners, as called for in the Geneva Conventions."I can assure you that our religion, our customs, our social values, order us to protect those prisoners and to protect their life," he said in an interview with Associated Press Television News.



North Korea has announced its withdrawal from liaison meetings with United States military officers in protest at ongoing American military drills with Southern forces. The two countries have no diplomatic ties but their armies do meet regularly at the border to discuss security issues.

North Korea has told Japan it will face self-destruction if it pushes ahead with its plan to launch a spy satellite into orbit this week.The official Korean Central News Agency has accused Japan of acting as "a shock brigade" for the launch of a US pre-emptive attack and nuclear war against North Korea.

Anti-war protesters have burned the American flag during a rowdy student rally outside Sydney's Town Hall.While some in the crowd listened to speakers, others threw chairs and glass bottles at police.There have been several arrests and police injuries.Three officers have been taken to Sydney Hospital with minor injuries.

No more Coca-Cola or Budweiser, no Marlboro, no American whiskey or even American Express cards -- a growing number of restaurants in Germany are taking everything American off their menus to protest the war in Iraq.Although the protests are mainly symbolic, waiters in dozens of bars and restaurants in Hamburg, Berlin, Munich, Bonn and other German cities are telling patrons, "Sorry, Coca-Cola is not available any more due to the current political situation."

U.S. President George W. Bush on 24 March telephoned President Vladimir Putin to express his concern about alleged transfers of high-technology military equipment by Russian companies to the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.Iraqi Information Minister Muhammad Sa'id al-Sahhaf on 25 March rejected U.S. claims that Russia provided Baghdad with military hardware in violation of UN sanctions.Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said on 24 March that Russia has been strictly complying with the sanctions regime imposed against Iraq by the UN Security Council and that Moscow has supplied no military equipment to Iraq since the early 1980s.Primakov, who is currently the head of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, quoted a statement that he attributed to former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, who said the United Kingdom and the United States supplied sophisticated military equipment to Hussein's regime.

A potential General Assembly action for peace prompts the US to launch a preemptive attack against the United Nations. All over the world, governments and civil society groups are proposing to take the US-led attack on Iraq to the UN General Assembly under a procedure known as “Uniting for Peace.” The US is so alarmed that it has launched a preemptive attack with a letter to all countries in the world which “demands” that they avoid “calls for an emergency session of the General Assembly.”

Russia "backs the demand" of the Arab League for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on the US-led invasion of Iraq which could take place as early as Tuesday, a senior Russian diplomat said

The New York Stock Exchange said Tuesday it had banned reporters from the Arabic-language TV network Al-Jazeera from its trading floor, sparking charges of retaliation for the channel's coverage of the Iraq war.The satellite channel has made daily broadcasts from the New York Stock Exchange for several years.On its regular morning financial broadcast, Al-Jazeera said the accreditations had been withdrawn "because of al-Jazeera's coverage of the war on Iraq."Pellecchia confirmed that Al-Jazeera was the only network to have its existing accreditations rescinded, but refused to comment on the charge that the move was purely retaliatory in nature.

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