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Last Updated: Monday, 15 November, 2004, 01:25 GMT
Falluja rebels 'make last stand'
US marine carries ammunition found during searches along a main Falluja street on Sunday
US soldiers say house searches have yielded many weapons caches
US-led forces say they expect several more days of fighting with the remaining Iraqi insurgents in Falluja.

They believe the most skilled and experienced fighters have moved to the south of the city, and are likely to make a last stand there.

The US military says it holds most of the city, but reports give differing accounts of the extent of control being exercised by US and Iraqi troops.

An aid agency has criticised US troops for denying entry to a relief convoy.

The Iraqi Red Crescent expressed growing fears about the plight of trapped residents, who they say desperately need food and medicines.

Mustapha Ahmed Abed lies in Naaman hospital, Falluja, on Sunday
Our situation is very difficult - we don't have food or water
Abu Mustafa
Falluja resident

But the US military says the city is not safe for aid workers, adding that its troops will deliver any help that is needed.

House to house

US and Iraqi government troops are carrying out thorough searches for weapons in areas they control, according to an American spokesman.

"It is probably going to be another four to five days of clearing house to house," Col Mike Shupp of the US marines told the Associated Press news agency.

The marines report that they have found the mutilated body of a Western woman in the city.

Two Western women are known to be among those still missing in Iraq after being kidnapped.

In other developments:

  • Arab TV channels report that an Islamist group has freed two women relatives of interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, but are still holding his cousin hostage

  • US and Iraqi security forces battle to regain control of the northern city of Mosul, after insurgents launched attacks on police stations there

  • US tanks and helicopters fire on suspected insurgents in the key oil city of Baiji, north of Baghdad

  • Fire rages at an oil pipeline near the town of Taji, north of Baghdad, following an act of sabotage on Saturday night

  • A senior official of the Iraqi Communist Party, Waddah Hassan Abdel Amir, is killed by gunmen in northern Iraq; the party is part of the interim Iraq government

One senior US officer said Falluja was "occupied, but not subdued".

In the last two days, up to 400 insurgents have been arrested, interim Mr Allawi said on Sunday.

Click here for a satellite picture showing troop movements and key sites

The Americans are sending civil affairs teams to the city on Monday to make preparations for repair work and the payment of compensation.

An AFP news agency journalist embedded with a unit of the marines - and speaking under military restrictions - told the BBC that American soldiers were searching every street corner, house and flat.

Patrick Baz said Falluja looked like a ghost town - with shop fronts riddled with bullets and tangled electrical wires dangling over deserted streets.

But Fadhil Badrani, a journalist operating independently in the city, told the BBC Arabic service that US-led forces had taken over only the northern districts.

He said in other parts of the city they controlled only the main roads.

Hiding

Thirty-eight US soldiers and six Iraqi soldiers have died in the battle for Falluja.

URBAN WARFARE

US commanders have said more than 1,200 insurgents have been killed since the assault began last Monday.

It is not known how many civilians have died.

The Iraqi Red Crescent reports that civilians are hiding in their houses, without drinking water and running low on food.

"Our situation is very difficult," one resident in the centre of the city, Abu Mustafa, told Reuters news agency by telephone.

"We don't have food or water. My seven children all have severe diarrhoea. One of my sons was wounded by shrapnel last night and he's bleeding, but I can't do anything to help him."

The US-led assault on Falluja is aimed at stabilising the country before planned elections in January.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Footage from inside Falluja



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