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Fighting Resumes On Al-Fallujah Outskirts

28 April 2004 -- Fighting resumed today in Iraq between U.S. forces and insurgents in the besieged Sunni stronghold of Al-Fallujah.

International media reported that U.S. F-16 warplanes and helicopters fired on the city's Golan neighborhood. There were also reports of gunshots and artillery in Golan, where witnesses said several buildings were destroyed after heavy air attacks by U.S. forces overnight.

In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair today told parliament the air strikes yesterday in Al-Fallujah came after insurgent attacks and are "perfectly right and proper." He said U.S. forces positioned outside the city are trying to restore order by attacking insurgent positions, and he said most residents oppose the insurgency.

"The information I have is that the vast bulk of people, even in Fallujah, want these insurgents to lay down their weapons and allow a proper process of dialogue to take place," Blair said.

U.S. troops have also surrounded Al-Najaf, where radical Shi'ite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is holed up with his militia. Qays al-Khazali, a spokesman for al-Sadr, today reiterated a warning that U.S. forces will be greeted by suicide bombers if they enter Al-Najaf.

"The number of people who are ready to carry out suicide attacks is increasing day by day, and we are telling them to wait until [U.S. forces] cross the 'red lines' as defined by the religious authority," al-Khazali said.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's Defense Ministry has announced that one Ukrainian soldier was killed and two others injured today in an ambush near the village of Zubadia, some 180 kilometers southeast of Baghdad. It was the second time a Ukrainian soldier has been killed in Iraq this month.