Islamists' camp in northern Iraq searched for poisons

31 March 2003
US and Kurdish forces have begun searching a camp in northern Iraq belonging to the Islamist Ansar al-Islam group, seeking evidence of chemical weapons production. The US claimed before war began that the group had links to both Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's regime. US Secretary of State Colin Powell also claimed that the group had produced lethal poisons, among them ricin. Theatre commander Tommy Franks said on 30 March that the destruction by coalition forces of a 'massive terrorist camp' was evidence of the war's success. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers was more cautious, telling reporters that no evidence of weapons of mass destruction had yet been found and that the camp, containing numerous tunnels, could take a week to search fully. Ansar villages have been bombed by allied aircraft, and a ground offensive against its enclave was launched on 27 March by about 1,000 US and 10,000 Kurdish troops.

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