The U.S. military here said it has captured dramatic insurgent-produced video showing militants setting up and firing dozens of Iranian-made rockets at an American military base south of Baghdad.
Military officials say the videotape, uncovered during a raid two days ago in the town of Nahrawan, about 20 miles east of Baghdad, shows insurgents setting up 46 rocket launchers, 34 of which were armed with Iranian 107mm rockets.
The tape is further evidence of Tehran's support of Iraqi insurgents, according to the military.
Military officials say several of the rockets landed near Forward Operating Base Hammer just south of Baghdad on Aug. 5, and on July 11, when a dozen rockets landed at the base, killing one soldier and wounding 15 others. The following day, an unmanned aerial vehicle located the rocket launchers in Besmaya south of Baghdad, the military said.
U.S. commanders have long accused Iran of supplying weapons, support, and training to armed groups in Iraq. They have also accused Iranian Special Forces of using Shiite Lebanese Hezbollah fighters to train Iraqi extremists to attack U.S. troops in Iraq.
Tehran routinely denies the allegations, blaming the United States for the violent insurgency here.
On the videotape, men dressed casually are seen loading and firing the huge rockets into the air, while the voice of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr is heard in the background denouncing the American-led war in Iraq.
One of the names for the 12th Shiite Imam, Mehdi, can be seen scribbled on at least one of the rockets. The Medhi army is the name of the Iraqi Shiite militia created by Sadr following the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military said 32 suspected militants were killed and 12 others detained in a Sadr City airstrike this morning that targeted networks smuggling weapons and fighters from Iran.
The raid, which began overnight, is one of the largest in a series of strikes against rogue Shiite militias. U.S. commanders have said the militias are responsible for an increasing number of attacks against American forces.
"The individuals detained and the terrorists killed during the raid are believed to be members of a cell of a special groups terrorist network known for facilitating the transport of weapons and explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, from Iran to Iraq, as well as bringing militants from Iraq into Iran for terrorist training," the military said in a statement.
U.S. and Iraqi ground forces came under sporadic small-arms fire as they targeted a group of buildings in Sadr City, the Shiite district in eastern Baghdad. The military said it killed two armed men believed to be lookouts, then detained 12 militia fighters.
Attack helicopters and warplanes then struck the area after spotting a vehicle and a large group of armed men on foot who were trying to attack the ground forces.