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Marines Unearth Weapons Caches; Tipsters Lead Troops to More Caches

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 2, 2006 – Over the past week, U.S. Marines discovered more than 10 tons of munitions hidden in Iraq's Euphrates River Valley. Troops elsewhere found and seized other weapons caches on New Year's Day.

Marines found 72 cache sites about 25 miles south of Fallujah during the weeklong Operation Green Trident, officials said today. Marines from the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 8, kicked off the operation near the village of Latifiyah to search suspected locations for hidden weapon caches.

More than 1,000 artillery and mortar rounds were unearthed along with scores of rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades, officials said. Officials said most of the caches were shallowly buried along the banks of the Euphrates River and surrounding area. Insurgents commonly use artillery and mortar rounds to make improvised explosive devices, officials noted.

In the Baghdad area, U.S. solders kicked-off the new year by seizing and destroying two weapons caches, which further denies terrorists the opportunity to put the citizens of Baghdad in harm's way, officials said.

U.S. troops seized the first weapons cache at about 8:30 a.m. New Year's Day. It included a rocket-propelled grenade, an AK-47 assault rifle and seven loaded magazines. About two hours later, soldiers seized a larger cachethat consisted of a 3.5 inch rocket, eight rocket-propelled grenades, a launcher, and 60 mm mortar rounds, officials said.

Elsewhere, tips from local residents led U.S. troops to four improvised explosive devices and the capture of five suspected terrorists Jan. 1 in northern Iraq.

An early morning tip from local residents led members of the 101st Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team to an area near Kirkuk, where they found two IEDs, officials said. While a group of soldiers secured the area to wait for an explosive ordnance disposal team, the tipster led the rest of the patrol to a nearby location where they detained five suspects believed to be involved with emplacing the IEDs, officials noted.

In Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, a tip from local residents led soldiers from the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team to the site of two more IEDs near a busy intersection in the city. One of the IEDs detonated while the unit was securing the area, slightly wounding one soldier. The second IED was safely disarmed, and an explosive ordnance disposal team removed two 120 mm mortar rounds.

"Tips from concerned citizens have helped Iraqi and U.S. forces discover numerous bombs and weapons caches throughout the area," a spokesman said.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq, Task Force Baghdad and Task Force Band of Brothers news releases.)

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