- Title: IRAQ: BASRA MOSQUE REMAINS UNDAMAGED AFTER MASSIVE COALITION BOMBARDMENT.
- Date: 31st March 2003
- Summary: (W6) OUTSKIRTS OF BASRA, IRAQ (MARCH 30, 2003) (REUTERS) 1. GV/GV/PAN/CU: THREE DESTROYED IRAQI ROCKET LAUNCHERS (3 SHOTS) 0.23 2. CU/GV/PAN: SELF-PROPELLED WEAPONRY STUCK IN A FENCE; FENCE PAN TO MOSQUE IN DISTANCE (2 SHOTS) 0.41 3. GV: MOSQUE 0.46 4. GV/CU/MV: OLD MAN OPENING FENCE OF MOSQUE; CLOSEUP OF HIS WIFE; OLD MAN ENTERING MOSQUE (3 SHOTS) 1.04 5. GV/TILT UP/CU/MCU: MOSQUE INTERIOR; MOSQUE CEILING; CLOSEUP OF KORAN IN MOSQUE (3 SHOTS) 1.33 6. GV/TILT DOWN: PAN FROM MOSQUE TO BUNKER USED BY IRAQI FORCES 1.46 7. MV: OLD MAN CLOSING GATE 1.53 8. GV/MV: DESTROYED IRAQI VEHICLES AND TANKS, ABOUT 30 OF THEM; CLOSEUP OF T-55 TANK (2 SHOTS) 2.06 9. GV/PAN/CU: PAN FROM OUTSIDE TO INSIDE IRAQI BUNKER; SIX HELMETS HANGING INSIDE (2 SHOTS) 2.20 10. GV: BRITISH ARMOURED PERSONNEL CARRIER (APC) PASSING DESTROYED IRAQI ARTILLERY 2.27 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Embargoed: 15th April 2003 13:00
- Location: OUTSKIRTS OF BASRA, IRAQ
- Country: Iraq
- Reuters ID: LVA1YVLY5V4JFZAOF3GUFNJECCV6
- Story Text: In the midst of a battleground in Basra, a monument to
peace stands out in stark contrast from the war-scarred
A small mosque and mausoleum escaped undamaged from a
massive coalition air bombardment on the outskirts of Basra
where a company of dozens of Iraqi armoured vehicles had dug
themselves in to defend the city.
Twisted, burnt-out hulks are all that remain of the Iraqi
defences. The landscape resembles that of the moon - a vast,
crater-pitted surface stretching as far as the eye can see.
Sandbagged bunkers have been blown back into the desert
from where they were dug. Unused bombs caches are littered
There is not a building that hasn't been destroyed, not a
plant that hasn't been blown out of the ground. Even the birds
seem to have vanished.
But the mosque, with its lapis inlays proclaiming the
names of the prophet surrounding the central dome, is in
The mosque's caretaker Abdul Salam showed a Reuters team
around the premises, saying Iraqi soldiers came and hid here.
Salam described how they took everything: the light
fittings, the door knobs and anything else they could remove.
The mosque doubles as a mausoleum to a Muslim saint, Ansa
bin Malik, described in a modest plaque as a servant of the
A green shroud covers his tomb where a vase of dried
flowers gathers dust.
Salam's wife also says the soldiers took her clothes, some
of them dressing as women as they ran away.
Their fate remains unclear, but what is certain is that
the time and the scale of the attack caught them unawares and
they fled in a hurry.
In a nearby hut, Iraqi helmets hang listlessly from hooks
hammered into a wooden beam. Discarded uniforms lie abandoned
in the surrounding bunkers.
A discarded plate and cup -- the remains of food still
attracting swarms of buzzing flies - left behind during the
The battleground lies between Basra's airport and the city
itself, a strategic area but one that offers little scope for
defence from the air - where Iraqi forces have proved most
Tanks and artillery pieces were dug into positions, but
they have been blown up -- many by apparent direct hits. A row
of Chinese-made frog missile launchers now appear like
skeletons, stripped by a scorching inferno of everything bar
Dozens of trucks used to carry troops and ammunition dot
the landscape, their tyres melted to a blackened blob around
It is unclear whether the mosque survived the bombardment
because coalition commanders deliberately avoided hitting it
so as not to offend Muslim sensitivities or if it somehow
miraculously escaped the onslaught.
"American soldiers did not come here," said Salam, but an
empty British ration pack blown by the wind against the fence
offers evidence that troops have passed by.
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