US to step up arms to Iraq

Reuters
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PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL THAT WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3

Gunfire echoes across the Iraqi city of Falluja.

It's the sound of al Qaeda-linked militants firing their weapons in a show of defiance as Iraqi army tanks line up on the outskirts in the distance.

Iraq's prime minister has urged Falluja's residents to drive out the militants to head off a military offensive that could start in days.

Iraqi military reinforcements were seen leaving Baghdad on Monday.

Falluja, Ramadi and other key cities lie in Anbar province where the troops and equipment are heading.

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LIEUTENANT HAIDER, IRAQI ARMY, SAYING:

"The tight measures that we take today are because of the situation in Anbar, to avoid security deterioration or violence in Baghdad. God willing we are at the service of the people and we vow to protect the homeland."

The seizure last week of positions in Falluja and Ramadi was the first time in years Sunni militants have

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