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21 Mar 03. As the war begins in Iraq, we offer our prayers to the soldiers of all countries, their families and the people of Iraq who will become involved in this great conflict. The opening shots of the Iraqi war were opened on three fronts, one air bombardment of strategic targets in Baghdad, Special Forces actions in the North to seize the Kirkuk oilfields and seizure of the Al Fuo peninsula and the strategic towns of Umm Qasar and Basra. Early indications show that some resistance has been met at Basra and it is likely that Umm Qasar will be in coalition hands later today. These early actions were designed to secure oil installations and facilities to prevent environmental damage. As many as 30 oil wells have been torched although this is less than originally expected. Men from 39 Commando Royal Marines entered the Al Fuo peninsula from land, helicopter from HMS Ocean and Ark Royal and hovercraft, where a beach minefield was encountered. Mine clearing operations are taking place in the waters outside Umm Qasar. 42 Commando were deployed for a blocking movement North of Al FuoOnce Al Fuo is taken landings of more troops and aid can begin. Sadly 8 Royal Marines and 4 American troops were killed in a Ch-46 Sea Knight helicopter accident. 7th Armoure Brigade has encountered stiff resistance in its flanking operations to the 3rd Infantry Division. Royal Navy submarines have launched Tomahawk missiles. The Iraqis responded with an attack of 5 Scud missiles, none of which caused loss of life.

Comment: 60 Iraqi troops are reported to have surrendered and the US 3rd Infantry Division expects to be in Baghdad in 3-4 days. Eight B-52 bombers are reported to be heading for the Gulf to support land operations. Both the UK and the US spokespersons have said that the war may last longer than expected. The next few days will see whether there is a mass surrender of Iraqis or whether as happened in Germany and Berlin in particular whether the Iraqi forces will make a last ditch stand.

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