A strange, strange 24 hours. We took up position in Chamchamal, the end of the road in Kurdish administered Northern Iraq. From there, the checkpoint which marks the beginning of Baghdad-controlled territory is just a stone’s throw away. Looking at the mountains ahead through the binoculars you could see Iraqi government troops on the ridges. Occasionally, they let off a burst of gunfire.
The whole town was knee deep in mud and virtually deserted. Most people had shut up shop and taken safety with their relatives out of town. Our main priority was to find somewhere to set up a base. We found a place to stay with Akram. His two room hovel was taken over by two journalists, a cameraman, driver and translator. His wife had left town but stayed behind to guard his possessions. He was the perfect host, cooking us all potato soup and rice on a kerosene stove. I could have misread the situation completely but he actually seemed quite pleased to have us there.
We did a succession of lives on the videophone and satellite gear before bedding down for the night on the floor in a kind of warzone slumber party. We all expected to be woken in the night by shelling but it stayed quiet and I slept like a log. We’ve had breakfast and are now heading back to Sulaymaniyah to get cleaned up. Then we’ll go back to Chamchamal again for another night on the floor.