BAGHDAD: The US military has warned that insurgents in Iraq are adopting new tactics in a campaign to spread panic after a car bomb making factory was uncovered during a raid west of Baghdad with propane tanks and chlorine cylinders — possible ingredients for chemical attacks like three recent blasts that sent dozens to the hospital.
The chlorine blasts and a recent spate of attacks against helicopters have raised fears that the insurgents are trying to develop new ways to confront US and Iraqi forces.
Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, the No. 2 American commander in Iraq, said he does not think the attacks signal a more capable insurgency but were at attempt to provoke fear.
“What they’re trying to do is adapt in such ways where they can continue to create instability,” Odierno said.
Odierno also said at least two suspects have been arrested in the downing of eight helicopters since 20 January, but he gave no further details.
The raid on the car bomb factory occurred late 19 February in the town of Karmah in the volatile western province of Anbar, US authorities said. US troops discovered a pickup truck and three other vehicles that were being prepared as car bombs, as well as detonation material.
“We also found ingredients to be used to devise or enhance explosives, such as fertilizer and chlorine cylinders,” Odierno told Pentagon reporters by videolink.
Any increase in chemical bombings could further complicate the Baghdad security crackdown, now in its second week.