Sunday, March 27, 2011

Libya revolt: Advancing rebels capture oil town Brega

A French Air Force Rafale jet fighter takes off for a mission to Libya from Solenzara Air Base, on Corsica - 26 March 2011 French jets were the first coalition aircraft to launch attacks against Col Gaddafi's forces last week
Libyan rebels have recaptured two more towns after re-taking the port of Ajdabiya from Muammar Gaddafi's forces.
They have seized the eastern coastal towns of Brega and Ujala without a fight and say they are moving towards the heartland of Col Gaddafi's support.
Rebel fighters also say they now control the key oil town of Ras Lanuf, but this has not been confirmed.
France says its aircraft destroyed at least five Libyan government jets and two helicopters on Saturday night.
France, one of the coalition countries enforcing a UN no-fly zone aimed at protecting civilians, says this happened at a government air base near rebel-held Misrata, which has become a key focus for the battle in western Libya.
Misrata is the only significant rebel-held city left in the west, and has been under heavy bombardment for days.
The Libyan government says coalition forces have been carrying out air strikes between Ajdabiya and the town of Sirte, a major pro-Gaddafi stronghold.
In the capital Tripoli, government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim said: "We are losing many lives, military and civilians."
'Clear and focused' The rebellion against Col Gaddafi's four decades in power began in mid-February, inspired by uprisings in neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia which saw the leaders there overthrown.
But the eastern towns along the coast were lost one-by-one to advancing pro-Gaddafi forces before coalition air strikes started last week.
Libyan officials say the strikes have killed nearly 100 civilians.
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said there were intelligence reports that Col Gaddafi's forces have taken the bodies of people killed in their own attacks and placed them at the site of air strikes in an attempt to blame the coalition for their deaths.
In his weekly address, US President Barack Obama said that the "clear and focused" military mission in Libya was succeeding.
"Make no mistake, because we acted quickly, a humanitarian catastrophe has been avoided and the lives of countless civilians - innocent men, women and children - have been saved," he said.
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