Iraq's prime minister has urged residents and tribes in the besieged city of Fallujah to "expel" al-Qaida-linked militants in order to preempt a military offensive that officials said could be launched within days.
Nouri al-Maliki's message on state television came as dozens of families were fleeing the city Monday in fear of a major showdown.
Iraqi government troops have surrounded Fallujah, which lies in western Sunni-dominated Anbar province and which was overrun along with most parts of the provincial capital, Ramadi, by al-Qaida fighters last week.
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