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U.S. Forces Storm Western Outskirts Of Al-Fallujah


8 November 2004 -- U.S. soldiers in Iraq continue to shell the rebel-held city of Al-Fallujah after taking control of the main hospital on the western edge and securing two bridges over the Euphrates River leading to the inner city.

Some 10,000 U.S. troops along with Iraqi soldiers have gathered outside Al-Fallujah ahead the expected ground assault to take the city. The military estimates that several thousand fighters are holed up in the city, but most of the some 250,000 residents have fled.

The U.S. military has been targeting insurgent positions in Al-Fallujah for the past few weeks and officers said they are waiting for Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi to give his support for the ground invasion.

Allawi declared a 60-day state of emergency yesterday and said retaking Al-Fallujah could not be delayed much longer.

Allawi said today that insurgents in Al-Fallujah are not interested in a peaceful settlement, CNn reported. He said at a news conference in Baghdad that the "rule of law" will be restored in Al-Fallujah "very soon," and a curfew will be imposed there after nightfall.

He did not say when an expected ground offensive inside Al-Fallujah will begin.

(AP/Reuters/AFP)

[For the latest news on Iraq, see RFE/RL's webpage on "The New Iraq".]
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