The photojournalist Robert Capa once said, "If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough." For Gulf War II, TIME's photographers are as close as they can be. Yuri Kozyrev, James Nachtwey and Patrick Robert are in Baghdad, getting pictures of the city as it suffers the trauma of bombardment. Four others--James Hill, Benjamin Lowy, Christopher Morris and Robert Nickelsberg--are traveling with U.S. forces as they fight their way north. Kate Brooks, Thomas Dworzak and Yunghi Kim are already there, with the Kurds in northern Iraq. Here is some of what they saw.
Like so many of the soldiers he accompanies, Morris left behind a family when he embarked for Kuwait. He and his wife have two daughters, the younger one born just a week before he left. Now he is embedded with the 3rd Brigade of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division as it heads north through a mixture of sandstorms and rain that sometimes leaves his cameras caked with a cement-like coating that he has to chip away bit by bit. "Most of these soldiers have never seen combat," says Morris, who has covered many wars in his 20-year career. "But that will change quickly as they come under fire and see casualties among their buddies."
One of the world's most acclaimed photojournalists, Nachtwey debated whether to travel with U.S. troops but opted in the end to work from Baghdad, where he has recorded the sights--the rubble of damaged buildings, the bomb victims in hospital wards--of a city under withering attack. The severe weather that has hampered allied troops has also hit Baghdad. "The sandstorm was the most amazing sight," says Nachtwey. "It looked like the prelude to an apocalypse."
At 24, Lowy is covering his first war. He's learning fast. Riding with the 1st Brigade of the Army's 101st Airborne Division, he was traveling north last week with hundreds of military vehicles in a ground-assault convoy (GAC). Alongside 15 soldiers, Lowy was in a troop carrier moving through stifling desert mornings and nights so cold that the men sometimes used plastic bottles of their own urine as hand warmers. "When I get out of here," he says, "I'm going to make up a T shirt that says I SURVIVED THE GAC."
"It's in extreme situations," says Kozyrev, "that you get to see human nature and genuine emotions in all their intensity." As a man who has covered wars and conflicts in the republics of the former Soviet Union, the Russian-born Kozyrev should know. He found himself in another intense situation in Baghdad last week as bombs pounded the city. "What has impressed me," he says, "is that the morale of the people in Baghdad remains high."
Heading north on Iraqi Highway 1 last week, Hill was traveling with the 1st Marine Division when his convoy was ambushed by Iraqis who had dug themselves into trenches along the side of the road, then fired on the line of vehicles when it came within range. The Marines returned fire, killing some of the Iraqi attackers. "Whatever advantage technology offers," says Hill, "it will be the spirit of those who fight that will set the tone for this war."