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U.S. Says Controls Most Of Al-Fallujah

Entering its fifth day, the assault on the insurgent-held city continues (file photo) 12 November 2004 -- U.S. military officers say insurgent fighters are being pushed to the south of Al-Fallujah, leaving U.S. and allied Iraqi forces in control of most of the Sunni Muslim city.

U.S. officers quoted today by Reuters described remaining insurgent fighters as fleeing to the southern part of Al-Fallujah, where they are trapped by U.S.-led forces.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters that "hundreds" of insurgents have been killed in Al-Fallujah.

Rumsfeld, speaking to reporters as he opened a trip to Latin America, declined to say how much longer the offensive might last. But he predicted Al-Fallujah will no longer be a safe haven for what he called "terrorists and extremists."

"I have no need to ever predict how long things will take. They'll take as long as they take. And it [the offensive] will end, and it will end successfully and it [Al-Fallujah] will no longer be a safe haven for terrorists or extremists," Rumsfeld said.

Officials said 18 U.S. soldiers and five Iraqi soldiers have been killed since the offensive was launched on 8 November. Casualties among civilians in Al-Fallujah are not clear.


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