Allied claims of the fall of Basra and reports of American tanks in the centre of Baghdad were robustly denied this evening by Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed al-Sahhaf.
Attending a press conference before by a rapidly dwindling troupe of Western journalists, Minister al-Sahhaf took the podium to address his audience beneath a solitary, naked lightbulb. In the distance, the crump of tanks shells could be heard.
Despite the gloom, the Minister could be seen standing in front of a map of the world carefully arranging a sheaf of papers that he claimed were messages being relayed from the front lines by Iraq soldiers.
“The so-called Coalition forces have been completely routed by the Iraqi Armed Forces. There is not a single British or American soldier on Iraqi soil”
Pausing only to wipe away the plasterdust that was settling on his head from the cracked ceiling above, the Minister continued:
“In accordance with the brilliant strategy devised by our beloved leader Saddam Hussein, our glorious soldiers have launched their successful counterattack which is destined to end in a great victory for our side. Already the cities of London and Sydney have been laid waste by the bold actions of our heroic and fearless fedayeen”.
Just at that moment, the building was shaken by a heavy rumble coming from outside.
“It is nothing, it is nothing”.said the Minister “Just a thunderstorm”.
Unphased by the interruption, the Minister continued with his address:
“Advance units of our elite Republican Guard have also surrounded the American capital city of Washington and, in the next few hours, they will begin their final push to capture the Whitehouse.”
As he finished his final sentence, a nearby explosion shattered the windows and blew out the single overhead lightbulb, plunging the room into darkness. There was a pregnant silence suddenly broken by the clatter of a chair as the BBC Correspondent leapt to his feet to applaud enthusiastically and shout “Bravo, bravo. More. Bravo!!”.