06 March 2011

BUB: Libya

Rebel forces are still advancing toward the capital.

Libyan helicopter gunships fired on a rebel force advancing west toward the capital along the Mediterranean coastline Sunday and forces loyal to leader Moammar Gadhafi fought intense ground battles with the rival fighters.
The opposition force pushed out of the rebel-held eastern half of Libya late last week for the first time and has been cutting a path west toward Tripoli. On the way, they secured control of two important oil ports at Brega and Ras Lanouf and by Sunday, the rebels were advancing farther west when they were hit by the helicopter fire and confrontations with ground forces.
The uprising against Gadhafi, which began just days after President Hosni Mubarak was ousted by protesters in neighboring Egypt, has been sliding rapidly toward civil war, making it the bloodiest episode in the Middle East's wave of unrest.
The seesawing battles for towns and oil installations along the coastline signaled that Libya's fighting could be prolonged, compared with the ousting of Mubarak after just 18 days. The protesters-turned-rebels — backed by mutinous army units and armed with weaponry seized from storehouses — are going on the offensive to try to topple Gadhafi's 41-year-old regime. At the same time, pro-Gadhafi forces have conducted counteroffensives to try to retake the oil port of Brega and the rebel-held city of Zawiya west of Tripoli — where bloody street battles were reported over the weekend.

And reports of government/loyalist gains appear to be exaggerated.

Four Libyan towns which forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi claimed to have retaken remain under rebel control, witnesses say.
Tobruk and Ras Lanuf remain in rebel hands, BBC correspondents said.
Anti-Gaddafi forces still control Misrata and Zawiya, residents and rebels said.
But both Misrata and Ras Lanuf came under renewed attack on Sunday, and clashes have been reported in the small town of Bin Jawad.
In the capital, Tripoli, officials said pre-dawn gunfire there was celebrating pro-Gaddafi "gains" of the towns.
Many people there first thought the firing was clashes between pro- and anti-government forces, and there are suspicions celebratory gunfire was then used to cover up the gunfight.

By: Brant

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