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American and Iraqi forces killed “nearly 50 insurgents” and captured another 20 during a five-day mission that also uncovered a large complex of weapons caches, U.S. military officials said early Monday.

Troops from the 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army and the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division conducted the operation in an area in north-central Iraq, officials said. The six large weapons caches were found in underground bunkers.

There was no way to verify the numbers of insurgents killed or captured in the raids. But U.S. military officials said the weapons caches included more than 400,000 rounds of small-arms ammunition; 15,000 heavy machine gun rounds; mortars; grenades and artillery rounds.

Troops also found a Nissan truck filled with bomb-making materials such as batteries, blasting caps, explosives and cellular phones, along with large amounts of U.S. cash and propaganda materials.

“We made a significant impact on the enemy’s ability to conduct any type of anti-Iraqi force operations,” Lt. Col. Andrew Poppas, the 5-73rd commander, was quoted as saying.

Military officials said most of the insurgents were killed while placing roadside bombs or while “maneuvering in tunnel and canal systems, staging for attacks.”

Poppas described the insurgent defenses as prepared positions, and close air support and helicopters were called in during the fighting.

“This was an operation of opportunity,” said Poppas. “Through this operation we destroyed command and control structures, destroyed caches of arms, heavy weapons, hundreds of thousands of rounds, and enemy fighters.”

Two American soldiers and six Iraqi troops were killed during the operations, officials said.

Some of the captured weapons will be given to Iraqi police forces, while others will be destroyed.


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