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April 25, 2004 3:00 AM

Marines hope program will win hearts, minds of Fallujah residents

At a checkpoint outside this disputed city, the flow of people was constant Sunday as hundreds of residents who had fled ferocious street battles two weeks ago clamored to return. Fighting may resume U.S. officials in Baghdad said Sunday they had set a Tuesday deadline for rebel forces to surrender their arms but for people at this checkpoint, and indeed, at a Marine office here, the talk was less of battle preparations than it was of hopes that a confrontation can be avoided. Marines at the office, set up between the Marines base at Camp Fallujah and the city itself, were issuing new identification cards to Iraqi police and civil defense officers 600 have been given out so far in a bid to get the Iraqi security agencies functioning again.

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