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A Frog's-eye view

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Sunday, March 23, 2003

Last night I reported that I didn't want to share the details of the awful images that appeared on Al-Jazeera's TV reports of yesterday. Well, it appears that Al-Jazeera's website didn't agree with me, because they chose the harshest of these images to accompany today's lead story. [The caption under the picture reads "One of the Victims of the British and American aerial bombardment of the City of Basra]

The report notes that the allied forces have begun air strikes in the area of Khurmal in Northern Iraq close to the Iranian border, attacking members of two Islamic organsations. (The details have already appeared in the Western press).

The article stresses the Iraqi resistance on the ground, and the frontal engagement in the desert around Najaf. Naturally, the US's confidence regarding this engagement (cited in the Western Press) is not reported. The Iraqis also claim to have hit down some 21 Tomahawk cruise missiles, which they claim were aimed at residential areas and government buildings in several Iraqi cities, though they do not provide any details.

According to the Al-Jazeera report, the attack came as Saddam Hussein appeared on Iraqi TV in his military uniform. The Iraqis said that he had held three meetings with top advisers, and was satisfied with the military's performance.

Meanwhile in Washington, General Stanley McChrystal reported on American arms uses, and confirmed that the US forces had not found any hidden weapons of mass destruction.

The bombing in Basra left some 50 people dead, including four members of one family and one Russian citizen. These numbers were provided by the Basra central hospital.

The report mentions the massive convoys of American armoured vehicles and supply trucks bringing bridge-making equipment to the northern desert passes leading from Basra to Baghdad. It also notes that the Americans have taken many POWS, but also sustained some losses. The fall of Nasariya to the Americans is noted. The article reports a British military spokesman as saying that the allies would like to conduct talks for the surrender of Basra. The British also claim that Iraqi 51st division in Basra surrendered, but this is denied by the Iraqi officials.

Meanwhile the allies have secured the port of Umm Qasr against any potential attacks they might face. The allies took more than 400 POWs in the surrounding area.

In general, this lengthy report on Al-Jazeera's website provides accurate information, though it tends to report Iraqi statements at face value, only challenging them by presenting the alternative view of the allies rather than through journalistic comment.

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