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U.S. Forces Suspend Offensive In Al-Fallujah

Prague, 9 April 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. military has suspended an offensive against insurgents in the Iraqi city of Al-Fallujah to allow for talks aimed at resolving six days of fighting that has killed up to 300 Iraqis.

U.S. civil administrator L. Paul Bremer today said U.S. forces initiated the suspension so that there can be talks between leaders of local Sunni Muslims, insurgents, and the U.S.-appointed Governing Council. He said the suspension will also allow for the delivery of aid and attention to casualties.

"Today at noon, coalition forces have initiated a unilateral suspension of offensive operations in Fallujah in order to hold meetings between members of the Governing Council, the Fallujah leadership and the leadership of the anti-coalition forces, to allow the delivery of additional supplies by the relevant departments of the Iraqi government and to allow residents of Fallujah to tend to their wounded and dead," Bremer said.

Also, there are reports U.S. forces have gained control of the southeastern Iraqi town of Al-Kut, two days after Ukrainian troops withdrew due to clashes with Shi'a Muslims. The U.S. military had said it would act soon to retake Al-Kut which, along with Kufa and Al-Najaf, have been under the full or partial control of Shi'a militias.

Bremer today also announced he has appointed a Sunni Governing Council member, Samir Shakir Mahmud al-Sumaydi'i, as Iraq's new interior minister. Yesterday, a Shi'ite, Nuri Badran, resigned from the post.

Copyright (c) 2004. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org

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