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Iraqi Prime Minister Orders Halt To Shelling Of Civilian Areas

Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says he has ordered the army to stop shelling residential areas controlled by Islamic State militants to protect civilian lives.

Abadi says he issued the order on September 11, but has vowed to continue military operations against IS militants who have seized large parts of northern and western Iraq.

Iraqi government troops, with support from U.S. warplanes, have stepped up their military operations in recent weeks against IS militants and allied Sunni tribal militia.

During the past week, the government's counteroffensive has expanded from northern Iraq into the Sunni Arab heartland of Anbar Province, with fighting focused near the strategic Haditha dam, Ramadi, and Fallujah.

Abadi's government, approved by parliament on September 8, includes Kurds and Sunnis in a bid to reduce sectarian tensions and form a united front against the militants.

Based on reporting by AP and dpa