Tripoli/Cairo, March 13 (DPA) Libyan government forces claimed to make gains in the eastern part of the country Sunday, while opposition groups insisted they would fight to recapture lost territory.Libyan state television said the eastern city of al-Burayqah was “cleansed” of rebels, who had been driven out of the city after heavy fighting with forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Fighting reportedly continued around 30 km outside the city, Al Arabiya reported.
Clashes continued near the city of Ras Lanuf, a day after Gaddafi’s forces announced they had taken control there.
Rebels located outside the city limits insisted they would re-enter Ras Lanuf by the end of the day, despite the superior weaponry of Gaddafi’s troops.
Gaddafi’s counterattacks, which include heavy air raids, appeared to weaken the position of the anti-government forces in the east, where rebels had held the most territory.
If government forces gain total control of al-Burayqa and other nearby cities such Ajdabiya, they could advance on to Benghazi, the opposition’s stronghold.
But rebels maintain control of Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city, for now.
Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he had spoken with Gaddafi on the telephone and proposed an initiative for a peaceful transition of power in Libya.
The Turkish initiative would have Gaddafi select a new Libyan president who would be acceptable to the public, Erdogan said in an interview with Al Arabiya.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese delegation at the UN Security Council began working on a draft resolution calling for a no-fly zone over Libya.
Lebanon – the only Arab country currently represented in the Council – began working on the issue after the Arab League called for a no-fly zone Saturday.
The Lebanese held closed door talks with the veto-holding Chinese council members, diplomatic sources said.
The Chinese delegation was reluctant to support the initiative for a no-fly zone, according to the sources.
The US welcomed the Arab League’s decision, saying it “strengthens the international pressure” on Gaddafi.
Thousands are feared dead in Libya, where violence has continued to escalate since Feb 15, when Gaddafi’s forces cracked down on protesters demanding the leader step aside.
Despite the loss of territory to rebel forces and international sanctions and condemnation, Gaddafi is refusing to budge. The leader, who has been in power for 42 years, claims the uprising has been inspired by foreign agents.