Skip to comments.Iraqi arsenal of banned weapons discovered
Posted on 03/23/2003 11:48:42 AM PST by concerned about politics
Iraqi arsenal of banned weapons discovered
British troops outside Basra have discovered cruise missiles and warheads hidden inside fortified bunkers as part of a massive arsenal abandoned by Saddam Hussein's disintegrating southern army.
Cases of rockets, giant anti-shipping mines and other ammunition are piled from floor to ceiling in dozens of bunkers at what is marked on maps as the Az Zubaya Heliport.
The most disturbing find was two Russian-made Al-Harith anti-shipping cruise missiles, each 6m long and 1m in diameter, and nine warheads, hidden in two enormous reinforced concrete bunkers.
Another missile, as yet unidentified, was found still crated up at the rear of one of the bunkers.
Some of the boxes are clearly marked with the names of British manufacturers.
The scale and possible implications of the weapons find took British forces by surprise and raised fresh questions about the extent of the Iraqi war machine and the ability of weapons inspectors to cope with the task of scouring such a vast country for prohibited ordinance.
The discovery of the missiles - date-marked 2002 - came as British troops from the Black Watch Regiment fought to secure the area around Iraqi's second city, Basra, in preparation for the capture of the city.
The vast complex, surrounded by chainlink fence and barbed wire, stands to the southwest of the town, defended by a network of earth works and with tanks and other armoured vehicles dug in to the surrounding area.
But the defenders have fled after coming under attack from coalition forces.
Outside the perimeter fence are about 40 bunkers packed with a mixture of RPGs and other ammunition. Inside, 22 larger fortified bunkers contain larger weaponry including the Al-Harith missiles.
The missiles, with Al-Harith 2002 stencilled in red paint on the side, and covered with cyrillic writing, were housed in 20-m-long concrete bunkers, 8m high, buried under earth and protected by sliding steel double doors 30cm thick.
Painted grey, the missiles have two wings, each about 60cm in span and three tail fins of a similar size. There was no indication of the nature of the warheads fitted and experts have been called in to examine the find.
Also housed inside the reinforced bunkers were what appeared to be large anti-shipping mines, 1m in diameter, and a host of other munitions.
On one box, written in English, were the words: "Contract AS Navy. 5/1980 Iran."
Corporal Steven Airzee said: "The initial sight was a shock. We were trying to figure out what they were. You have to wonder whether the weapons inspectors have been there because they looked pretty big."
The entrance to the heliport is decorated with a picture of Saddam Hussein in military uniform.
The area is surrounded by wrecked vehicles and abandoned sandbagged fox holes, some flying white flags, and is overlooked by a network of watch towers.
There are fears that weapons may have been taken from some of the bunkers which lie open outside the perimeter fence.
Lieutenant Angus Watson said they found the haul when they arrived last night.
"The complex is massive and we were surprised to find a lot of the kit intact, easily enough for a whole brigade," he said.
They also discovered hundreds of leaflets lying on the floor, dropped by coalition planes, urging the defenders to surrender. The leaflets, and evidence of an aerial or artillery attack, appear to have persuaded the defenders to abandon their posts without a fight.
Only to dumbs**its who think that "inspections were working," and nothing will persuade them anyway.
Besides, the Americans planted all of this so the Brits would stumble across it. Isn't obvious?
EXCLUSIVE: US TROOPS CAPTURE CHEMICAL PLANT
(Still waiting for access to article. Have headline only - Jerusalem Post )
Of course they had been there, but those rose-colored glasses obscured their vision.
You've been nabbed Putin. Chechnya huh? Doing deals with the devil that's after you? How very French.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.