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Weapons Caches Seized in Baghdad, Tikrit

By KATARINA KRATOVAC, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Police and U.S. troops seized weapons in Baghdad and near Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit after a small but symbolic rocket attack on a U.S. compound in the Iraqi capital.

The cache found Saturday near Tikrit included 23 Russian-made surface-to-air missiles, 1,000 pounds of plastic explosives, grenades, grenade launchers, rockets, a mortar and mortar rounds. It was among the largest caches found there since American troops arrived in April, according to Maj. Mike Rauhut of the 4th Infantry Division.

In Baghdad, Iraqi police found a much smaller cache late Saturday, recovering about a dozen small rockets, grenades and mortar rounds. The warheads had been removed from the rockets, suggesting they were to have been used in fabricating small roadside bombs that have caused casualties among U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians.

Police Gen. Ahmed Kadrim Ibrahim said the weapons were found after a tip from an informant. He said the weapons had been brought to Baghdad from the southern port of Basra after being smuggled in from a neighboring country that he would not identify.

U.S. troops and their Iraqi partners have been trying to curb the flow of weapons and stop attacks against American forces. Those attacks have killed more than 80 U.S. soldiers since President Bush declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq on May 1.

Over the past 90 days, the number of daily attacks against U.S. troops has ranged from the "low teens to the mid-20s" each day, according to Charles Heatley, spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority.

Most of the resistance has been centered in the area north and west of Baghdad, the stronghold of the country's Sunni Muslim minority. Despite their minority status, Sunnis formed the core of Saddam's regime.

On Saturday, guerrillas struck at a symbol of American control in Iraq, firing three rockets or rocket-propelled grenades at the Al-Rashid Hotel, which is filled with American soldiers and civilians. The explosions caused no casualties and superficial damage.

Faced with continued resistance, the Bush administration has been seeking support from other countries to join in reconstruction and to provide troops to reduce the burden of American soldiers. However, many major countries have refused to send their own soldiers without United Nations approval.

After a meeting Saturday with Bush at Camp David, Russian President Vladimir Putin said any Russian contribution to Iraq's reconstruction would depend on a U.N. resolution. Russia, France and Germany are demanding a greater role for the United Nations in Iraq and a speedier timetable for ending the U.S. occupation as conditions for supporting such a resolution.

However, Saudi Arabia's deputy defense minister said his government was unlikely to send peacekeeping troops to Iraq, even under a U.N. mandate. Prince Khaled bin Sultan, in an interview published Saturday by the newspaper Okaz, said he saw "no benefit" in sending troops from neighboring countries.

Prince Khaled commanded Arab forces during the 1991 Gulf War that drove Iraqi troops from Kuwait.

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa told the Al-Hayat newspaper that Arab states will not send forces to Iraq to "defend occupation troops."

"If any Arab country is considering sending troops, this will be after they get a request from those concerned, the Iraqis," Moussa was quoted as saying. "We care about Iraq, not the occupation."


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