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Iraqi Leader Warns That Al-Fallujah 'Window Closing'

The streets of Al-Fallujah (file photo) 5 November 2004 -- Iraq's interim prime minister says time is running out for a peaceful solution to the standoff with insurgents in the western Iraqi city of Al-Fallujah.

Iyad Allawi, speaking in Brussels today, said most of the civilian population has already left Al-Fallujah.

"The window really is closing for a peaceful settlement," Allawi said. "The Fallujah people, most of them have left Fallujah, and the insurgents and the terrorists are still operating there. We hope they will come to their senses. Otherwise, we will have to bring them to face justice."

Allawi's warnings came the same day that U.S. forces used loudspeakers and distributed leaflets by air, warning that they will detain any man under 45 years of age trying to enter or leave the city.

The United States resumed air strikes on Al-Fallujah overnight and U.S. and Iraqi forces have surrounded the city and sealed off roads leading to Al-Fallujah in preparation for what many expect will be a massive offensive.