Iraq PM urges Falluja to expel Al-Qaeda-linked militants
BAGHDAD (REUTERS) - Iraq's Prime Minister urged people in the besieged city of Falluja on Monday to drive out Al-Qaeda-linked insurgents to preempt a military offensive that officials said could be launched within days.
In a statement on state television, Mr Nuri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite Muslim whose government has little support in Sunni-dominated Falluja, said tribal leaders should help expel the militants, who last week seized key towns in the desert leading to the Syrian border.
"The Prime Minister appeals to the tribes and people of Falluja to expel the terrorists from the city in order to spare themselves the risk of armed clashes," read the statement.
A provincial official said security forces had regained control of another town, Ramadi, forcing militants to the east where they were holding out in mosques and homes. Air raids would flush them out, he told Reuters.