Saddam Hussein would be tried on 12 of a possible 500 charges

American troops have found a vast network of bunkers beneath the Iraqi desert which insurgents used as a base, complete with kitchen and air conditioning, the US military said at the weekend.

The largest complex, measuring 166 by 269 metres, (546ft by 883ft) was carved from an old rock quarry near Karma, in the restive province of Anbar, west of Baghdad.

It included a well-stocked larder, four furnished living spaces and rooms full of machine guns, mortars, rockets, black uniforms, masks, compasses, night-vision goggles and satellite telephones.

In a separate development the Iraqi government said the ousted president, &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Saddam Hussein, would be tried on 12 of a possible 500 charges, and the proceedings were likely to start within two months.

The US 2nd Marine Division, backed by Iraqi soldiers, has been sweeping through Anbar in an effort to disrupt the communications and supply lines of an insurgency that has claimed more than 820 lives in the past five weeks, reports the Guardians Unlimited.

Hussein, who ruled Iraq from 1979 until his ouster by U.S. forces in April 2003, has been held at an undisclosed facility since he was captured eight months after the fall of his government. Last July, he was arraigned in Baghdad on several broad counts, including the assassination of political opponents and the use of &to=http:// ' target=_blank>chemical weapons against ethnic Kurds in northern Iraq. For nearly a year, however, it has been unclear when he would be tried and what the specific charges would be.

Kubba said Sunday that while Hussein stood accused of more then 500 crimes, the Iraqi government would try him for 12. Kubba did not specify what the charges would be other than to say they would include "the crimes of northern Iraq." "There is no time to waste on 500 cases," Kubba said.

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