US forces have pounded the Iraqi rebel city of Fallujah with the fiercest bombardent in months. An all out assault appears imminent, the Iraqi government has again warned the window is closing to resolve the stand-off peacefully.
Fallujah has become a symbol of Iraqi resistance, US commanders have been co-ordinating plans to bring it under control.
The military estimates there are some 3000 insurgents there dug in behind defences and booby traps.
The overnight bombing has reduced dozens of homes to rubble.
With Fallujah coming under regular attack for weeks, more than half of its population has fled.
Many of the families who had stayed up until now have begun streaming out from the city’s only remaining exit. All other roads have been cut by US forces. Residents say a field hospital was hit in last night’s assault, others showed the bombed out remains of a mosque.
A US military source has revealed that if it succeeds in flushing out insurgents, 40 million dollars that is just over 30 million euros have been earmarked to reconstruct Fallujah.
In a sign that the all out assault will take place soon, some 10,000 American soldiers and Marines have masssed outside the city and residents who’ve stayed behind say loud speaker announcements have warned them to flee.