US Bombs Falluja,
Showdown Near

American warplanes have bombed the Iraqi city of Falluja, a day after the country's interim prime minister spoke of an imminent military showdown with anti-US forces.
An Iraqi journalist told Aljazeera the bombing lasted for up to two hours in the al-Azraqiya neighbourhood, north-east of the city.
Residents also said the strikes destroyed a house in the al-Askari district. They had no word on casualties.
The journalist said "defenders" of the city were preparing for the expected military onslaught on the city after Iyad Allawi said on Sunday a showdown was imminent.
The interim prime minister said the government was still offering an olive branch, but told a news conference: "Our patience is running thin."
The US-backed government says Saddam Hussein loyalists and fighters loyal to al-Qaida ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi are operating from Falluja and Ramadi, another city west of Baghdad.
Falluja residents deny the claims that such fighters are hiding in the city.
Ramadi targeted
In the nearby city of Ramadi seven people, including women and children, were killed and 11 wounded in clashes between US forces and armed fighters, according to hospital director Abd al-Munaim Uthman.
Residents said US artillery had shelled eastern districts and said there had been air strikes on Saturday and Sunday.
The military could not immediately be reached for comment.
The commander of a marine battalion near Falluja told reporters earlier, his men were awaiting orders to attack.
"We will continue to probe the enemy's defence until such time as we decide to enter and clear the city," Lieutenant Colonel Willy Buhl said. "And we'll do that when Prime Minister Allawi and President (George) Bush tell us it's time to go."
The US aim is to crush anti-US forces in Falluja and elsewhere before national elections in January.
It is not clear whether US and Iraqi forces will launch the offensive before Tuesday's American presidential poll.
Baghdad deputy killed
In Baghdad armed assailants killed the deputy governor of Baghdad and wounded four of his bodyguards.
Hatim Kamil was assassinated in a drive-by shooting on Monday morning, said Baghdad Governor Ali al-Haidari.
Interior ministry spokesman Colonel Adnan Abd al-Rahman said Kamil was killed when gunmen opened fire on his car in the southern Dura neighbourhood.
Two of his bodyguards were also wounded in the attack, Abd al-Rahman said.
No other details were immediately available on the killing, the latest in a series of attacks targeting officials linked to Iraq's interim government.
Aljazeera + Agencies



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