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

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.