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Iraqi PM orders halt to shelling

Iraq's prime minister has ordered the army to stop shelling populated areas held by the Islamic State group.

During a conference held in Baghdad, Haider al Abadi said the decision aims to prevent the targeting of "innocent victims" during military operations to drive out the militants from areas and cities they control.

But Mr Abadi vowed to continue military operations against the al Qaida breakaway group that has seized large territories in the country's north and west after an unprecedented offensive in June.

Fighting between Iraqi security forces and insurgents has taken its toll on civilians living in insurgent-held areas.

"I issued this order two days ago because we do not want to see more innocent victims falling in the places and provinces controlled by Daesh," Mr Abadi told a news conference in Baghdad, referring to the Islamic State group by its Arabic acronym.

He accused the militants of using civilians as a human shield to stop the advance of Iraqi security forces.

But he vowed to continue military operations against the al Qaida breakaway group, which seized large territories in the north and west in an unprecedented June offensive.

"We will continue to chase them (IS fighters) and we know that they are hiding behind the civilians," he said.

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