US troops reported to have discovered chemical weapons factory

24 March 2003
US forces on 23 March discovered a large chemical weapons facility near the city of Najaf, according to reports from the US' Fox News and the Jerusalem Post, who have reporters embedded with the troops. The installation was handed over to the First Brigade of the US 3rd Infantry Division by the Iraqi troops tasked with guarding it. Reports indicate that the factory covers a site of about 100 acres adjacent to a military barracks and had been camouflaged to avoid detection from the air. US Lieutenant-General John Abizaid at the Central Command in Qatar told reporters that the reports could not be confirmed, and defence officials in the US also urged caution. Abizaid said that two Iraqi generals had been taken prisoner at the Najaf site and were providing information.

US special forces in western Iraq have also discovered evidence of banned weapons programmes, according Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers. He told ABC's This Week programme that documents have been found which could show where Saddam Hussein has hidden some of his chemical and biological weapons material, by teams fighting for three airbases near the Jordanian border. 'They found a huge arms cache, millions of rounds of ammunition and some documentation that need to be exploited,' Myers said.

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