U.S. Troops Find Chemicals in Iraq Raid
The Associated Press
Thursday, February 22, 2007; 10:57 AM
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- U.S. troops raided a car bomb factory west of Baghdad with five buildings full of propane tanks and ordinary chemicals the military believes were to be used in bombs, a spokesman said Thursday, a day after insurgents blew up a truck carrying chlorine gas canisters.
Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said the chlorine attack Wednesday - the second such "dirty" chemical attack in two days - signaled a change in insurgent tactics, and the military was fighting back with targeted raids.
"What we are seeing is a change in the tactics, but their strategy has not changed. And that's to create high-profile attacks to instill fear and division amongst the Iraqi people," he told CNN. "It's a real crude attempt to raise the terror level by taking and mixing ordinary chemicals with explosive devices, trying to instill that fear within the Iraqi people."
But he suggested the strategy was backfiring by turning public opinion against the insurgents, saying the number of tips provided by Iraqis had doubled in the last six months.
One of those tips led U.S. troops to a five separate buildings near Fallujah, where they found the munitions containing chemicals, three vehicle bombs being assembled, including a truck bomb, about 65 propane tanks and "all kinds of ordinary chemicals," Caldwell said. He added that he believed the insurgents were going to try to mix the chemicals with explosives.
The pickup truck carrying chlorine gas cylinders was blown up Wednesday, killing at least five people and sending more than 55 to hospitals gasping for breath and rubbing stinging eyes.
On Tuesday, a bomb planted on a chlorine tanker left more than 150 villagers stricken north of the capital. More than 60 were still under medical care on Wednesday. Chlorine causes respiratory trouble and skin irritation in low levels and possible death with heavy exposure.
Iraqis clear debris on the site of a house that was destroyed during fighting between U.S. forces and insurgents in the volatile Sunni city of Ramadi, Iraq, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2007. U.S. troops battled insurgents in fierce fighting that killed at least 12 people in Ramadi, U.S. officials said Thursday, while Iraqi authorities claim the dead included women and children. (AP Photo)