Official Iraqi information on the war seems to have been a mixture of the familiar grand fantasy and apparently reliable body counts. The coalition side, meanwhile, seems desperately keen to reassure us that it's all going to plan, when in some respects it quite clearly isn't.
Longtime Hard News correspondent Adam Bogacki has turned up what appears to be a useful source of information on what is actually going on - the Russians. This site provides an English translation of material posted to iraqwar.ru, a site established by Russian journalists and military analysts to provide information based on Russian intelligence reports.
It appears things aren't going as well for coalition command as the official noises indicate, especially as regards casualties. If the excerpts below are accurate, Umm Qasr appears to have been flattened in order to save it:
"The situation around the borderline town of Umm Qasr (population 1,500) still remains unclear. Radio intercepts and satellite images show that the town was under constant bombardment throughout out the night. The morning photos indicate its complete destruction. This shows that the coalition command, fed up with the Iraqi's stubborn resistance, ordered the complete destruction of the town using aviation and artillery. However, according to reports by the British troops ordered to "clean up" Umm Qasr the town still contains many pockets of resistance. The overall coalition losses at Umm Qasr during the past four days amounted to up to 40 killed and up to 200 wounded. Currently it is impossible to estimate the Iraqi losses at Umm Qasr. As of yesterday's morning the Umm Qasr garrison consisted of 1600 troops.
"The units of the British marine infantry have failed to establish control over the strategically important Fao peninsula. After yesterday's counterattack by the Iraqis the British forces have been thrown back some 3 to 5 kilometers and were forced into defensive positions. Intercepted radio communications indicate that today the British command will attempt to regain the lost ground after spending the night reinforcing their units on Fao with two additional marine infantry battalions. The overall British losses on the Fao peninsula during the past four days of fighting include up to 15 killed and up to 100 wounded. The Iraqis lost here up to 100 killed and around 100 captured …
"Any further advances by the coalition within the next 12 hours are unlikely. The coalition command in Qatar has been in meeting since the early morning and is expected to come up with significant changes to the overall operational plan. According to most experts the coalition command made a most serious strategic error by starting the ground phase of the operation nearly at the very start of the war. The Americans have violated their own doctrine where the ground phases of a military operation coincide in time with the destruction of the enemy from the air.
"The US made serious errors in their estimates of the Iraq's army strength and combat readiness. The US military intelligence and the CIA failed to uncover the true potential of the Iraqi forces and, in essence, misinformed the top military and civilian leadership of the coalition member countries."