RAMADI, Iraq — Troops with the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division destroyed what commanders are calling a “significant” stash of insurgent weapons Saturday night, including a mortar and rounds that had been used to attack several combat outposts deep within the city over the last two months.

Local Iraqi residents informed troops with the 1st, or “Bandits,” Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment of multiple weapons caches in the southern area of Ramadi.

Some of the weapons, which included Italian anti-tank mines, artillery rounds, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and a Draganov sniper rifle, were hidden in a building in Ramadi’s “Second Officers District” — a housing development for military officers under the Saddam regime.

“It’s definitely an encouraging sign,” said Maj. Matthew Van Wagenen, executive officer for the battalion. “The locals literally led us to the building.”

Soldiers with Warrior Company rolled to the scene in Bradley fighting vehicles not long after their base, Combat Outpost Iron, received mortar fire from the site late Saturday night. Troops on foot discovered the weapons, as well as the 7.62-millimeter sniper rifle, which was loaded and positioned to fire atop the building.

There was a brief firefight prior to the discovery.

“They had driven up to one of the cache sites and we engaged them,” Van Wagenen said of the insurgents. “They fled. It looks like they knew we were in the area.”

There were no casualties.

The locals offered up the information on the same evening last week that three Bandit soldiers — 1st Sgt. Aaron Jagger, Spc. Ignacio Ramirez and Spc. Shane Woods — were killed in a roadside bomb blast. The men belonged to Charlie, or “Cobra,” Company.

The cache was hidden in the same general area where the men were killed in their Humvee, adjacent to a large train station that has served as an insurgent supply point for several years, commanders said.

Nearly all of the weapons were blown up where they were found, and the sound of the explosions echoed throughout the city. Explosives disposal crews feared that the cache sites were rigged to explode if U.S. troops removed the ordnance, and ordered the weapons destroyed where they lay.

Saturday night’s operation was the latest development in an ongoing campaign to rid Ramadi of insurgents. In the last two months, troops under the command of Col. Sean MacFarland have established several combat outposts in areas of the city that had long ago been given up to insurgents.

MacFarland’s troops have used the outposts to launch daily patrols and combat operations, which have driven insurgents into bunkered positions within the city’s center.

In addition to putting pressure on insurgents, the campaign has attempted to encourage the cooperation of local Iraqis. Saturday’s operation was a possible sign that this was starting to happen, commanders said.

“It’s a good sign that they turned over the insurgents,” Van Wagenen said. “It’s also significant that we were able to take out a large cache that they (the insurgents) were probably depending on.”

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