Iraqi leaders tell rebels to give up heavy arms

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The Independent Online

Iraqi leaders in the besieged city of Fallujah have appealed for insurgents to turn in their heavy weapons such as mortars, surface-air-missiles and rocket-propelled grenades, US officials claimed yesterday.

Iraqi leaders in the besieged city of Fallujah have appealed for insurgents to turn in their heavy weapons such as mortars, surface-air-missiles and rocket-propelled grenades, US officials claimed yesterday.

In return, the Americans have pledged not to resume its attacks against the Sunni Muslim stronghold while rebels are disarming.

Fallujah was the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting in Iraq two weeks ago when US forces first surrounded it and launched an attack in an attempt to deal with a rising insurgency.

The fighting, which claimed 700 Iraqi lives and 70 Americans, ended in an uneasy truce with US Marines still surrounding the city.

The Fallujah statement outlined steps to bring relief to the city's beleaguered population, arrange residents' return and take the first steps toward establishing security forces' control.

The two days of direct negotiations, which began Friday, also resulted in a curfew being pushed back two hours to 9pm.

Small numbers of armed and uniformed Iraqi police and civil defence members were seen on Fallujah's street yesterday for the first time since the US siege began on 5 April. Some residents emerged from homes and US trucks drove through the city blaring messages urging food stores to open.

But US officials have questioned how much influence the team of civic leaders has. Military commanders have warned that if the deal to disarm fell through they could launch an assault on the city

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