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 The political parties aren't all the same – which means 2015 will be a 'big-choice' election
- 2 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 3 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
UK weather: Warning for more snow and ice as freezing temperatures and gales hit Britain
New York police shooting: thousands turn out for the funeral of Rafael Ramos
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...