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Libyan forces bombard coastal cities as rebels appeal for weapons

Posted by on March 14, 2011 0 Comment

Cairo/Misurata, Libya, March 14 (DPA) Libyan armed forces bombarded the northern cities of Ajdabiya and Zuara Monday, as rebels appealed to the international community for weapons to help them in their battle against Muammar Gaddafi’s forces.

News websites reported that fighter jets bombed parts of the city close to residential areas. No deaths or injuries were reported.

Opposition news website Libya al-Youm reported that the fighter jets dropped flyers over the city of Ajdabiya after the air strikes, calling on rebels to surrender and urging people take down the rebels’ red, black and green flag.

According to the Brnieq website, the flyers warned that if residents disobeyed orders, Gaddafi’s brigades would march into the city and kill everyone who fights back.

If government forces gain total control of Ajdabiya and other nearby cities, they could advance on to the opposition stronghold of Benghazi.

The mood in the north-eastern rebel-held cities of Libya is tense, as Gaddafi’s forces continue an eastward push in a bid to take back cities under rebel control.

Libyan forces have claimed to have made gains in the eastern part of the country over the last several days, while opposition groups insist they will continue to fight to recapture lost territory.

Gaddafi’s counter-attacks, which include heavy air raids and naval attacks, have prevented rebels from making a westward push to the capital Tripoli.

One rebel fighter, who wished to remain anonymous, told DPA that before rebels could reach Tripoli, they needed to take control of Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte, some 500 km east of the capital.

Monday reportedly saw fresh clashes in the port city of Zuara, some 110 km west of Tripoli, with one person killed and at least three were injured in clashes with government forces there.

“We want weapons from the international community to fight this criminal. Instead the world is watching Gaddafi slaughter his people,” General Mohamed Abdelrahim told DPA.

Abdelrahim was a general in Gaddafi’s army, but defected several weeks ago to command rebels fighting to overthrow the Libyan leader.

He claimed that over 6,000 people have died and up to 14,000 have been injured in the past several weeks of fighting.

This could not be independently verified, but rights groups have said that well over 1,000 have been killed in the uprising.

“I saw with my eyes a 12-year-old shot dead from air fire. It is something you cannot imagine,” said Abdelrahim.

The rebel commander said he returned to the northeastern rebel- held stronghold of Benghazi Monday morning to rearm and return to Brega, where the rebels were fighting Gaddafi’s forces for control.

Brnieq reported that rebels were able Monday to push back Gaddafi’s forces and maintain control of Brega.

A spokesman for the rebels, Hamed el-Hassy, told Arabic broadcaster Al Arabyia they had captured 25 and killed 20 of al- Gaddafi’s forces in Brega overnight Sunday.

A spokesman for rebels in the northern city of Misurata said that the opposition’s National Council would object to any foreign military troops in Libya, but would likely accept assistance to bomb strategic points.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the spokesman of the rebels in Misurata also said that they do not have enough weapons to fight off the air strikes.

Both Gaddafi’s forces and the opposition have claimed control of Misurata, where clashes between the two continue.

The rebel spokesman told dpa that Gaddafi does not trust his loyalists and that military leaders close to the embattled leader are currently under house arrest to prevent any attempts of betrayal.

Libyan authorities Monday promised an amnesty to rebel fighters if they hand in their weapons and give up the fight against Gaddafi, according to Libyan state TV.

Gaddafi’s troops have appeared to weaken the position of the anti- government forces in the east, where rebels had held the most territory. Rebels are reportedly still in control of Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city.

Gaddafi, who is facing strong international condemnation and calls to step down after 42 years in power, claims the uprising was inspired by foreign agents.


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