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U.S. Marines and Iraqi soldiers have completed a three-day sweep near the Euphrates River Valley city of Hit, rounding up “hundreds” of mortar and artillery rounds, rockets and other weapons, officials said Thursday.

The Marines, from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, and Iraqi soldiers from 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division, reported digging up more than 500 rockets, artillery rounds and mortar rounds, along with more than 100 tank rounds and a stockpile of fuses, blasting caps and rocket propellant.

Insurgents in Iraq have fashioned disparate munitions into deadly makeshift bombs, the No. 1 killer of U.S. servicemembers in the country.

“This was our biggest find to date,” 1st Lt. Antonio Agnone, combat engineer platoon leader for Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, said in a Marine news release. “We’ve uncovered numerous and significant caches the insurgents have hidden in Hit, in places where they thought they would have easy access to them.”

The teams also seized numerous assault rifles, rounds of ammunition and two completed bombs.

All of the weapons and ammunition were destroyed by military explosives experts, Marine officials said.

The Marines reported finding some of the weapons in a local cemetery, buried in graves and marked in code. The caches were uncovered after a local tipster told the Marines and Iraqi troops of the strange burials at the cemetery, officials said.

Marines used mine detectors to try to determine which grave sites contained weapons.


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