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Allawi: Time Running Out For Al-Fallujah

31 October 2004 -- Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi says time is running out for a peaceful solution in the western city of Al-Fallujah, where U.S. forces are poised to assault Islamist militants.

In remarks in Baghdad today, Allawi said the government is still offering an olive branch to the city, but he said its patience is running thin.

He said the government wants to free Al-Fallujah "from the grip of terrorists who came from abroad."

Reports say U.S. forces were today continuing to bombard Al-Fallujah with artillery. Fighting was also reported in the city of Ramadi.

Allawi further said authorities have arrested in the last few weeks 167 suspected militants, most of them non-Iraqi Arabs.

He also said four top figures in the Islamist network led by Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had been killed.