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U.S. Military Says 'Gearing Up' For Al-Fallujah Assault

29 October 2004 -- U.S. Marine Brigadier General Dennis Hejlik says his Expeditionary Force is "gearing up" for a major military operation against insurgents in their stronghold in Al-Fallujah, west of Baghdad.

As part of the preprations, hundreds of British soldiers have deployed near Baghdad at U.S. request. Their presence frees U.S. forces for the potential Al-Fallujah action.

A U.S. military spokesman, Major Francis Piccoli, said that a Navy jet assigned to support of the Marine force bombed a suspected weapons site today in Al-Fallujah. He said the bombing destroyed the site and set off a secondary explosion, which he said suggested the existence of a weapons cache there.

Iraqi officials said today that interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi is dispatching a team to Al-Fallujah to try to negotiate clearing the city of insurgents and heavy weapons and, thus, to head off a full-scale assault.