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8 November 2004 -- U.S. and Iraqi forces have battled insurgents on the outskirts of Al-Fallujah ahead of an expected offensive on the Iraqi rebel stronghold.
Reports said U.S. and Iraqi forces clashed with insurgents in the western districts of Al-Fallujah. U.S. forces are reported to have taken control of the main hospital and they are said to have secured two key bridges over the Euphrates River.
Some 10,000 U.S. troops along with Iraqi soldiers have encircled Al-Fallujah ahead the expected assault to take the city. U.S. warplanes and artillery have been targeting insurgent positions in Al-Fallujah for the past few weeks.
AFP reported that Iraq's interim Defense Minister Hazim Sha'lan has visited Iraqi troops camped outside Al-Fallujah.
Overnight, the U.S. military said its planes dropped leaflets over Al-Fallujah, telling insurgents there to give up.
Yesterday, Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi declared a 60-day state of emergency across the country except for the Kurdish-run north.
(AP/BBC/Reuters)[For the latest news on Iraq, see RFE/RL's webpage on "The New Iraq".]