Tripoli: NATO jets destroyed a military storage facility and other targets in Tripoli’s eastern outskirts early Sunday, days after key international players recognized Libya’s rebel leadership as the country’s legitimate representative.
Rebel attacks on the eastern oil city of Brega, meanwhile, stretched into their fourth day, with reports of pitched battles in the residential areas.
Rebel spokesman Mohammed al-Rajaly said his forces had liberated the northeastern half of the city and were moving against government forces hold up in the southwestern part.
From the capital, bright flashes could be seen on the eastern horizon just after midnight, followed by a steady rumbling that went on for an hour. Planes could be heard crisscrossing the night sky lit up by a near-full moon, and into Sunday afternoon as well.
NATO said its forces had hit a military storage facility, along with three radar sites and an anti-aircraft missile launcher east of the capital. The alliance reported it flew a total of 110 sorties and carried out 45 strikes Saturday.
Despite the boost given by the recognition of the rebels and a pledge to transfer Libya’s billions in frozen assets to rebel coffers, the struggle against Moammar Gadhafi has settled into a stalemate since the mass uprising broke out in mid-February.
The rebels have set up an interim administration in the eastern city of Benghazi and seized control of the port city of Misrata and much of the western Nafusa mountain range. Gadhafi controls the rest of Libya from his stronghold in Tripoli.
NATO forces also struck several targets around Brega, possibly in support of the rebel assault on the town, destroying a tank, a pair of rocket launchers and five vehicles. Zeenews
Al-Rajaly said the rebels had successfully driven government forces out of the northern parts of the city and were now skirmishing with them in the southern areas.
The latest advances represent the farthest the rebels have reached in their months of trying to retake the town.
Brega is the transport terminal for oil and natural gas pumped from the fields deep in Libya’s south and has changed hands several times in the early days of fighting.
One fighter was killed and 15 were wounded, according to Dr. Mohammed Idris at the hospital in the nearby city of Ajdabiya. On Saturday, 10 rebels were killed in a failed assault.
On the whole, however, rebel efforts to move on the capital have all bogged down in the face of better equipped and trained government troops.
Gadhafi himself has made a series of defiant speeches over the last few days, ridiculing NATO and making it clear he has no intention of leaving power — as demanded by the Western powers.