Heavy fighting in Libya as rebels advance toward capital
Sunday 06 March 2011
Libyan war planes launched airstrikes and troops engaged in heavy ground battles with a rebel force advancing west toward the capital Tripoli along the country's Mediterranean coastline.
The opposition fighters pushed out of the rebel-held eastern half of Libya late last week and have been cutting a path west toward Tripoli. On the way, they secured control of two important oil ports at Brega and Ras Lanouf. By Sunday, the rebels were advancing father west when they were hit by airstrikes and confrontations with ground forces.
Associated Press reporters at the scene said Gadhafi loyalists retook the town of Bin Jawad, about 110 miles (160 kilometers) east of Gadhafi's stronghold city of Sirte, which could prove to be a decisive battleground. The reporters witnessed airstrikes on the rebel forces and heavy fighting on the ground.
The uprising that began on 15th February, inspired by rebellions in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt, has been sliding toward a civil war that could be prolonged, with rebels backed by mutinous army units and arms seized from storehouses going on the offensive to try to topple Gadhafi's 41-year-old regime. At the same time, pro-Gadhafi forces have tried to conduct counteroffensives at Brega and in the rebel-held city of Zawiya west of Tripoli — where bloody street battles were reported over the weekend.
The US has moved military forces closer to Libya's shores, but has expressed wariness about talk of imposing a "no fly" zone over the North African nation to prevent Gadhafi from using his warplanes to attack the population. The UN has imposed sanctions, and Libya's oil production has been seriously crippled by the unrest. The turmoil has caused oil prices to spike on international markets.
In Tripoli, the city of 2 million that is most firmly in Gadhafi's grip, residents were awoken before dawn by the crackle of unusually heavy and sustained gunfire that lasted for at least two hours. The reason for the gunfire was no immediately clear, though Libyan authorities said it was to celebrate the regime taking back Ras Lanouf near the rebel-held east and the city of Misrata close to Tripoli. Despite those claims, AP reporters saw the rebels in control of Ras Lanouf early Sunday and residents of Misrata said the city remained in opposition hands.
By early morning, thousands of Gadhafi's supporters poured into Tripoli's central square for a rally, waving green flags, firing guns in the air, and holding up banners in support of the regime.
Hundreds drove past the Bab al-Aziziya military camp where Gadhafi lives, waving flags and cheering. Armed men in plainclothes were standing at the gates, also shooting in the air. Gadhafi's whereabouts were unknown.
- 1 David Cameron refers to 83-year-old Labour MP Dennis Skinner as 'Jurassic Park'
- 2 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 3 Optical illusion turns blue demon into brunette
- 4 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 5 Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal will donate entire $32bn fortune to charity
Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal will donate entire $32bn fortune to charity
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Greece debt crisis: Country firmly on course to hold EU referendum as eurozone leaders reject new bailout request
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS
Tunisia beach attack: How can British Muslims respond to the latest outrages?
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...
£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...