Iraq's interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi (search) defended the Fallujah assault, saying in a British tabloid newspaper Friday that the offensive has the support of most Iraqi people and is necessary to enable elections in January.
"A battle is raging in Fallujah (search) which will help decide the future of Iraq," Allawi wrote in The Sun popular daily. "Iraqi government forces, together with multi-national troops, are engaged in fierce fighting to liberate the city from foreign terrorists, extremists and former members of Saddam (Hussein)'s regime.
"It is not a fight of our choosing. But it is a fight we must win and one, I can assure you with all my heart, that has the support of all but a handful of the Iraqi people," Allawi said.
"If we prevail, Iraq will move closer to the free and democratic country which is the fervent desire of our citizens."
He said the four-day assault against Fallujah was needed to rid the city of terrorists and insurgents who have used it as a base to "spread murder across Iraq."
"These men of violence control Fallujah by fear but also hold the rest of the country hostage as proper preparations for our national elections are held up," the prime minister wrote.