Fallujah targeted by US planes

Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi backed the move, which the US military said targeted a hideout of about 25 people suspected of ties with Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi.

The Jordanian-born militant has been linked to al-Qaeda and is suspected of being behind some of the continuing violence and insurgency in Iraq.

The US-led coalition blames Zarqawi for at least 25 attacks in Iraq, including the March 2 coordinated suicide bombings of Karbala and Baghdad that killed about 170 people, and the beheading of US businessman Nicholas Berg.

Zarqawi, who has a $25 million bounty on his head, offered his own $285,000 reward for the death of Mr Allawi, according to a reported message posted on an Islamist website.

He also claimed responsibility for a failed attempt to assassinate Iraq’s Justice Minister Malek Dohan al-Hassan that left five people dead on Saturday.

The health ministry said 14 men were killed and three injured in the US air strike in Fallujah, a bastion of Sunni Muslim resistance 50 kilometres west of Baghdad.

Hospital sources said women and children were among the dead.

Brigadier General Erv Lessel, the deputy director of the US-led multinational force in Iraq, said about 25 suspects were at the site just before the strike.

US aircraft have launched repeated air attacks on residential buildings in the city since abandoning a month-long siege at the end of April.

US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told reporters Iraqi leaders allowed the US-led military to conduct the latest bombing.

“We worked with the government, the government was fully informed about these matters and agreed with us on the need to conduct the action,” said Mr Armitage.

“We did not just strike off on our own. The sovereign nation had to agree.”

Posted in 上海性息网