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Full Control of Fallujah Could be Hours Away


Full control of the Iraqi city of Fallujah may be just hours away according to a senior Iraqi government official. However, the insurgency in the country is continuing, with U.S. and Iraqi forces battling armed militants in several parts of the country.

American and Iraqi military forces say they hope tonight to be able to gain full control of the rebellious city of Fallujah, west of Baghdad.

Military officials in the restive city, say insurgents are trapped in the southern section, following the fourth day of battles, including one that erupted near a mosque in the northwestern part of Fallujah.

U.S. and Iraqi forces faced sniper fire and attacks from rocket-propelled grenades.

American military officials said dozens of insurgents were killed or captured Friday. Those same officials say hundreds of insurgents have been killed since the offensive was launched Monday to rid the city of armed militants.

Contacted Friday in Baghdad, a senior interim government official said, full control of Fallujah was now, as he put it, "a matter of hours away, not days." The same official said the victory in Fallujah will, over time, prove to have been a major blow to Iraq's insurgency.

In the meantime, the Iraqi Red Crescent, which deals with numerous aid agencies, called on American and Iraqi forces to allow food, water, medicines and other supplies to be delivered to Fallujah. There has been no electricity or water in the city since Monday, when an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops stormed Fallujah.

Further west of Fallujah, in the city of Ramadi, U.S. troops swept into the city, arresting dozens of suspected insurgents who may have fled the battle in Fallujah. Sporadic gunfire and explosions were heard Friday in Ramadi.

North of Baghdad, in the city of Mosul, American forces launched air strikes against suspected insurgent positions, following two days of militant attacks on numerous police stations and the Iraqi National Guard. A U.S. soldier was killed Thursday in Mosul.

In Baghdad Friday afternoon, insurgents engaged in armed battle along a major street in the central section of the capital. Gunfire was heard along Haifa Street, where it is believed supporters of wanted militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are located.

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