U.S. discovers tunnel system near Euphrates River in Iraq
Used to conceal fighters, anti-aircraft systems
BAGHDAD — Al Qaida used an extensive network of tunnels to conceal
insurgents and weapons in Iraq.
The U.S. military found the tunnels along the
Euphrates River in central Iraq, Middle East Newsline reported. The tunnels were said to have been used to
store weapons, hide fighters and launch attacks against U.S. forces.
Officials said this was the first such tunnel system found in central
Iraq. They said U.S. troops also discovered anti-aircraft systems in the
tunnels, located northwest of Iskandariyah.
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"The tunnels provided access to numerous AQI [Al Qaida in Iraq] fighting
positions," the military said on Monday. "Inside the tunnels were several
anti-aircraft rounds, leading troops to speculate the tunnels may have
served as enemy firing positions for anti-aircraft guns, as well as hiding
places for AQI fighters after they launched attacks."
The military said the tunnels were destroyed on Dec. 16 after they were
discovered by the U.S. Army's 4th Brigade Combat Team. The tunnels were
found after soldiers discovered a nearby cache of improvised explosive
Officials said the military tried to destroy the tunnels with a Hellfire
missile fired from a helicopter. When that failed, U.S. fixed-wing aircraft
dropped two bombs that collapsed the underground network.
Al Qaida has used the Euphrates River valley as a launching pad for
strikes against the U.S.-led coalition in the Anbar, Baghdad and Diyala
provinces. U.S. and Iraqi troops have conducted search and destroy missions
against Al Qaida during Operation Marne Roundup, launched on Dec. 15.