Around the capital, US forces reported the discovery of a series of weapons
Troops taking part in one operation that began Wednesday also stumbled upon
an apparent hide-out west of Baghdad that was used by Sunni insurgents for
torture and summary executions.
Lt. Col. Valery Keaveny described breaking through a double-locked door to
find an Iraqi police officer and another Iraqi man who had undergone
"considerable torture." The policeman had been shot in both ankles and the other
man had been dangling from the ceiling and "beaten severely by a pipe for a good
deal of time," Keaveny told reporters.
The captives told US soldiers they had been convicted to death by an
insurgent court at the site - about 18 miles west of Baghdad near the village of
Karmah - and had the choice of either beheading or a fatal gunshot, said
They were spared immediate death, Keaveny said, because the insurgents' video
camera didn't work and they had gone to get a new one to film the executions.
"(The insurgents) said they would be back in the morning," he said. "And that's
when we came in, that night."
The two men were taken by US forces for medical treatment.
The site also contained a huge stockpile of more than 1 million pounds of
aluminum sulfate, which can be used as a component in nitrate-based fertilizer
explosives. But it also has other commercial uses, including water purification.
Aluminum sulfate was among the items found in the car of the so-called
millennium bomber, Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian convicted in 2001 of plotting to
bomb Los Angeles International Airport.
Elsewhere, the military said an airstrike Saturday in Arab Jabour, on the
southern outskirts of Baghdad, forced insurgents to flee and leave behind four
Iraqi hostages - one claiming he had been held for 50 days.
On Saturday, an al-Qaida-affiliated group posted a video purporting to show
the execution of 18 kidnapped government security forces. The Islamic State of
Iraq said it carried out the killings - with the victims being shot in the back
of the head - in retaliation for the alleged rape of a Sunni woman by members of
the Shiite-dominated police last month.
The authenticity of the three-minute video could not be immediately verified.
The group also said it had killed 14 policemen, whose bodies were found
Friday in the northeast province of Diyala. Some of the victims were
decapitated, according to an AP photographer.
"It would be very helpful to the people of Iraq if civic and religious
leaders, Sunni and Shia alike, would publicly denounce these horrific acts,"
said Maj. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, commander of US forces north of Baghdad. "With
many influential leaders making the same statement, the population will realize
that these terrorists are not the future of Iraq."
Also Sunday, a kidnapped Iraqi defense official, Lt. Gen. Thamir Sultan, was
freed after Iraqi security forces stormed a house where he had been held, a
government spokesman said.
Three US troops were killed in combat in Iraq's western Anbar province, the
military said. One Marine and one sailor died Friday, and another Marine was
killed Saturday, the military said in a statement. Their names were withheld
pending family notification.