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January 10, 2014 AT 3:47 PM
The prospect of an imminent Iraqi army assault on Falluja receded as negotiators tried to work out a deal under which al Qaeda militants who seized the city 10 days ago would give way to Sunni Muslim tribal leaders. Military and local officials said the tanks, artillery and troops around the city 44 miles west of Baghdad would not attack while efforts to end the standoff peacefully were under way. Militants of the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which is also fighting in neighboring Syria, took control of Falluja and parts of nearby Ramadi on January 1 with the help of sympathetic armed tribesmen.