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Iraqi prime minister orders halt of army shelling on populated areas held by militants

  • FILE - in this Tuesday, July 29, 2014 file photo, a generator owner inspects his community generator that was destroyed after a bombing in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq. Iraq's prime minister Haider al-Abadi said Saturday he has ordered the army to stop shelling populated areas held by militants in order to spare the lives of "innocent victims" as the armed forces struggle to retake cities and towns seized by fighters of the Islamic State extremist group this summer. (AP Photo, File)

    FILE - in this Tuesday, July 29, 2014 file photo, a generator owner inspects his community generator that was destroyed after a bombing in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq. Iraq's prime minister Haider al-Abadi said Saturday he has ordered the army to stop shelling populated areas held by militants in order to spare the lives of "innocent victims" as the armed forces struggle to retake cities and towns seized by fighters of the Islamic State extremist group this summer. (AP Photo, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - in this Saturday, July 19, 2014 file photo Abdullah Ahmed walks outside his home that was damaged in a bombing, in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq. Iraq's prime minister Haider al-Abadi said Saturday he has ordered the army to stop shelling populated areas held by militants in order to spare the lives of "innocent victims" as the armed forces struggle to retake cities and towns seized by fighters of the Islamic State extremist group this summer. (AP Photo, File)

    FILE - in this Saturday, July 19, 2014 file photo Abdullah Ahmed walks outside his home that was damaged in a bombing, in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq. Iraq's prime minister Haider al-Abadi said Saturday he has ordered the army to stop shelling populated areas held by militants in order to spare the lives of "innocent victims" as the armed forces struggle to retake cities and towns seized by fighters of the Islamic State extremist group this summer. (AP Photo, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - This Sunday, July 13, 2014 file photo, shows damaged hospital beds after a bombing in al-Karma town, east of Fallujah, Iraq. Iraq's prime minister Haider al-Abadi said Saturday he has ordered the army to stop shelling populated areas held by militants in order to spare the lives of "innocent victims" as the armed forces struggle to retake cities and towns seized by fighters of the Islamic State extremist group this summer. (AP Photo, File)

    FILE - This Sunday, July 13, 2014 file photo, shows damaged hospital beds after a bombing in al-Karma town, east of Fallujah, Iraq. Iraq's prime minister Haider al-Abadi said Saturday he has ordered the army to stop shelling populated areas held by militants in order to spare the lives of "innocent victims" as the armed forces struggle to retake cities and towns seized by fighters of the Islamic State extremist group this summer. (AP Photo, File)  (The Associated Press)

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

During a conference held in Baghdad, Haider al-Abadi says Saturday 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 al-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.