Fallujah truce extended

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A senior official of the Iraqi Islamic Party which has been leading mediation talks said the ceasefire would allow hospitals to reopen and had been agreed by both sides, although there were few signs of peace on the frontlines.

The extended ceasefire had been reached “as a result of continued negotiations, which is an important progress that we hope will help lead to further positive measures, including the pullout of (US) snipers”.

UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, speaking to reporters later in Baghdad, said he was hopeful the ceasefire would lead to a peaceful settlement in the besieged Sunni bastion.

Even as mediators prepared for more talks to extend the ceasefire, a US military aircraft blasted two buildings with cannon fire early Wednesday morning in response to the ambush on marines the previous day.

More than 80 US soldiers and around 700 Iraqis have been killed in fighting in Iraq over the past nine days, mainly around Fallujah where marines launched a major crackdown last week following the brutal murder of four US contractors.

Civilians were seen leaving their homes with white flags. Hundreds of families have fled the city in recent days.