Iyad Allawi (file photo)
8 November 2004 -- Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi says he has authorized a ground offensive by U.S. and Iraqi forces on the rebel-held city of Al-Fallujah.
Allawi said at a news conference today that the offensive is aimed at rooting out terrorists and establishing the rule of law in Al-Fallujah, 60 kilometers west of Baghdad.
"We are after terrorists. We are not after anybody else, and all the Iraqi people, including people in Fallujah, they want us to go ahead and finish the terrorists and have the rule of law prevail in Fallujah, and this is what we intend to do," Allawi said.
Allawi said he has imposed a curfew on Al-Fallujah and nearby Al-Ramadi, and closed Baghdad International Airport for 48 hours. He also announced tighter controls on the borders with Jordan and Syria, saying only essential goods will be allowed through.
About 10,000 U.S. troops -- as well as some Iraqi soldiers -- have gathered outside Al-Fallujah ahead of the expected ground assault against several thousand fighters in the city. Most of Al-Fallujah's residents have fled.
(AP/Reuters/AFP)[For the latest news on Iraq, see RFE/RL's webpage on "The New Iraq".]