BAGHDAD- Iraqi security forces are preparing to storm Falluja and break a month-long standoff with militants who control the city, senior security officials and troops told Reuters on Saturday.

Anti-government fighters, among them militants from the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), overran two cities in the Sunni-dominated western province of Anbar bordering Syria on January 1st.

Iraqi government forces have since regained control over most of Ramadi, but Falluja remains in militant hands and is surrounded by the army, which has periodically shelled it.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who is also commander in chief of the armed forces, has held off an assault to give local tribesmen time to expel militants from Falluja themselves.

But security officials told Reuters a decision had now been made to enter the city by 6 p.m. Sunday, Iraqi time.


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