Marines 'control 70% of Fallujah'

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The Independent Online

The US Marines said today that American forces control an estimated 70 per cent of Fallujah.

The US Marines said today that American forces control an estimated 70 per cent of Fallujah.

Army and Marine units that pushed south through the city's central highway overnight now control an estimated 70% of the city, said Maj Francis Piccoli, of the 1st First Marine Expeditionary Force.

Left unclaimed is a band through the central part of the city, running along the main east-west route, but US and Iraqi forces are expected to battle to try for that strip today, he said.

"There's going to be a movement today in those areas. The heart of the city is what's in focus now," he said.

Piccoli characterised fighting so far as "light" to "moderate," but not heavy, which usually means massing of forces and fire, he said.

Piccoli called US casualties "extremely light." On the rebel side, "we've inflicted a great number of casualties," he said.

The north-western neighbourhood of Jolan, the historic warren of narrow alleys where Sunni militants rigged booby traps, is now "secured and under control," he said, although Marines were expected to continue sweeping house to house in search of fighters and weapons today.

* A roadside bomb today in northern Iraq killed six Iraqi soldiers and wounded two others, Iraqi officials said. The soldiers, members of the Iraqi National Guard, were on their way to an Iraqi military camp when the bomb exploded near Tuz, 115 miles north of Baghdad.

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