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Monday, December 17, 2007

U.S. Troops Discover, Destroy al-Qaida Tunnel Network

~Snooper~

BAGHDAD - A network of underground tunnels near Iskandariyah used by al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) to store weapons, hide fighters and launch attacks against U.S. forces was discovered and subsequently destroyed by Coalition forces, Dec. 16. It was the first known find of a tunnel system in the Multi-National Division - Center area.

Soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division found the tunnels as they were searching an area northwest of Iskandariyah, along the Euphrates River. Immediately prior, they discovered a cache of improvised explosive device (IED) components and were investigating when the tunnels were unearthed.

The tunnels provided access to numerous AQI fighting positions. 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.

Soldiers called in Coalition air teams to destroy the tunnels. After an initial engagement with one Hellfire missile and three rockets, heavier air support was called in and dropped two bombs on the target, completely collapsing the network.

U.S. and Iraqi Soldiers are in the area as part of Operation Marne Roundup, the latest Coalition offensive to target extremists in MND-C. The operation launched the morning of Dec. 15.

As soon as the area is secured, U.S. troops will begin construction of a new security outpost, Patrol Base Khidr.

Soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division found and destroyed a network of underground tunnels used by al-Qaida in Iraq to store weapons, hide fighters and launch attacks against Coalition forces northwest of Iskandariyah, along the Euphrates River, Dec. 16. Photo by 4th BCT, 3rd Inf. Div.