June 4, 2005
U.S. Marines Find Weapons Caches, Huge Bunker As Iraqis Continue To Learn "Under Fire"Topics: Middle East News and Perspectives
As Operation Lightning is watched closely as a bellwether of when Iraqis can take control of their own security, the U.S. military is still the driving force. But the real news is that the Iraqis are getting better at it.
[An Iraqi army officer, left, guards captured suspected militants in Baghdad Saturday June 4, 2005. Iraqi Army's al-Muhtana brigade arrested 19 suspected militants in raids in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib and Sabi al-Bour neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Mohammed Uraibi)]
Hundreds of Iraqi and U.S. troops searched fields and farms Saturday for insurgents and their hideouts in an area south of Baghdad known for attacks. U.S. Marines discovered 50 weapons and ammunition caches and a huge underground bunker west of the capital; the underground bunker was no 'hole in the ground' - it was an elaborate facility with air-conditioned living quarters, fitted out with a kitchen and showers, and high-tech military equipment - including night vision goggles:
The joint U.S.-Iraqi force operating in Latifiyah to the south was backed by American air power and said it had rounded up at least 108 Iraqis, mainly Sunnis, suspected of involvement in the brutal insurgent campaign to topple the Shiite-led government.
To the west of the capital, the 2nd Marine division said its forces had discovered 50 weapons and ammunitions caches over the past four days in restive Anbar province. The military said the find included a recently used "insurgent lair" in a massive underground bunker complex that included air-conditioned living quarters and high tech military equipment, including night vision goggles.
That bunker was found cut from a rock quarry in Karmah, 50 miles west of Baghdad. The Marines said the facility was 170 yards wide and 275 yards long.
In its rooms were "four fully furnished living spaces, a kitchen with fresh food, two shower facilities and a working air conditioner. Other rooms within the complex were filled with weapons and ammunition," the announcement said.
The weapons included "numerous types of machine guns, ordnance, including mortars, rockets and artillery rounds, black uniforms, ski masks, compasses, log books, night vision goggles, and fully charged cell phones."
>In Latifiyah, 20 miles south of Baghdad, Iraqi and American forces launched a raid as part of Operation Lightning, a week-old assault aimed at rooting out insurgents conducting raids on the capital and sapping militant strength nationwide. While Iraqi forces were in the forefront of Saturday's sweep though the semi-rural region, it was clear the U.S. military was still the driving force.
About two hours into the operation, for example, American forces voiced concern that an area covered in tall grass had not been searched. An Iraqi commander said he was reluctant to send his troops into the field for fear of an insurgent attack.
"This is a dangerous area. We need helicopters and the American army," Iraqi Brig. Gen. Najim al-Ekabi said.
Posted by Hyscience at June 4, 2005 7:25 PM
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