GULF WAR II: THE PROTESTS: I Might Be Living the Last Days of My Life. I Am So Afraid. Oh God Help Me.I Don't Know Where to Hide. Why Are They Doing This? DIARY OF DESPAIR; Schoolgirl Thuraya El-Kaissi Lives in the Hell of Baghdad. This Is Her Story

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Byline: STEVE MARTIN

THURAYA el-Kaissi is a pretty, confident, intelligent 17-year-old girl on the verge of womanhood ... but her life has been shattered by the bombing of Baghdad.

A typical teenager, Thuraya dreams of one day visiting London, but now she lives in the Iraqi capital. She has been keeping a diary on her family's harrowing experience of being blitzed.

After learning of her from a US peace group, reporter STEVE MARTIN tracked down Thuraya. It took two days to get official approval to meet her, but hers is the authentic voice of young Iraq.

This is Thuraya's week amid the bombs of Baghdad ...

Dear diary

SUNDAY, MARCH 16

IF war does arise in the coming few days, I might not be able to continue writing. We don't know what is going to happen. We might die and maybe we are living our last days in life.

But I hope anyone who reads my diary remembers me as an Iraqi girl who had many dreams.

My cousin works at the international airport at Baghdad. She speaks English much better than me, but I would love to work there. Even better, I will go to London, make my home there and many new friends.

Sunday is their day of rest and prayer in London. Our day is Friday and so I go to school as normal.

But it's hard to concentrate. I am not worried about dying. But I am worried I will live and my family will die.

If that is the choice, I would rather be dead than alive with no family.

MONDAY, MARCH 17

I WANT to redecorate my bedroom to make myself happier. I have photos of Leonardo di Caprio next to my bed.

I used to like him a lot about two years ago. But now I am not so sure. Now I like N'Sync and Back Street Boys. I hear the records on our FM radio station called Voice of the Youth.

But it is very hard in Iraq to get posters and pictures of people who are famous in Europe and America.

Anthony Hopkins and Richard Gere are two I would like. I saw Silence of the Lambs on TV and we saw Shadowlands on video. But no one I know has got any pictures of him.

I love Princess Diana too. I have a newspaper picture of her which someone's cousin sent to me from England.

She had very pretty clothes and was very glamorous. I would like to have been tall like her.

Someone told me she tried to stop children being hurt from landmines. I am sure she would not have wanted this war.

TUESDAY, MARCH 18

THEY say the war could start tonight. My father tells me it is not safe to go school and I must stay at home.

Yesterday, at school I was very upset. We were half-way through our morning lessons when the headmistress came into our class.

She pointed at my best friend Meena and told her that her mother and father had arrived.

They had decided to go to Syria because they didn't want to stay in Baghdad during the war.

The headmistress told Meena to get her bag and go immediately because it takes half a day to drive to Damascus.

Meena and I were crying because we do not know when we will see each other again.

We hugged each other and held hands and all the others girls in the class were crying too.

Why do Mr Blair and Mr Bush do this to us? What have we done to them? We are just young Iraqi girls and we want peace not war.

I am sad to miss school because I have an English examination soon and I have to get good marks. I want to study English at the School of Art. But it is very hard to get a place. You must have top marks. But how can you get top marks when you worry about war all the time?

I was five when the Gulf War happened in 1991. I don't remember it much. My father took us to a cousin's orchard by the river Tigris about an hour from here for a few days. We have cracks in the wall on both sides of our living room from the last war. …