TIKRIT, Iraq – U.S. troops uncovered one of their biggest weapons caches to date Saturday at a farm near Saddam Hussein's birthplace, including anti-aircraft missiles and a huge quantity of explosives used to make the homemade bombs that have killed numerous American soldiers.
In the second raid in as many days on a farm near the village of Uja (search), where Saddam was born and the site of a recent bomb attack against American soldiers, U.S. troops acting on a tip dug through the soft earth near a river bank and found the cache underneath a covering of reeds and straw.
"This is a significant discovery because everything we take out of the enemy's hands can't be used against us," said Maj. Mike Rauhut, executive officer of the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment.
The cache turned up 23 Russian-made surface to air missiles, 1,000 pounds of plastic explosives, four rocket propelled grenade launchers and 115 rockets, a mortar and 40 mortar rounds, 1,300 blasting caps and 423 hand grenades
The raid was a follow-up on information gleaned following a Thursday assault on the farm, a 2-square-mile spread of lime, pear and pomegranate trees.
"It's tied to some former regime people. That's always good as it makes a small dent on their ability to resist," Rauhut said.
Their target at the time was a reported cache of rockets and homemade bombs that are used to attack U.S. convoys on the main road through Tikrit (search), also known as "RPG Alley" because of rocket-propelled grenades frequently fired by Iraqi resistance fighters in the area.
At the time, in an area just 500 meters (yards) away from the cache, soldiers had found a heavy machine gun and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition.
"It is a substantial weapons cache, it's not the largest we have found but it probably rivals it," Rauhut said. "The most significant part are the surface-to-air missiles and explosives."
The SA-7 (search) shoulder-fired missiles could pose a significant threat to the helicopters used by the U.S. military in and around Tikrit.
U.S. troops have been carrying out near-daily raids following a coordinated attack by Iraqi resistance fighters on Sept. 19 that killed three American soldiers. The raids have resulted in dozens of arrests and follow-up raids.