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Rebels hold on to their last stronghold in western Libya

Posted by on March 13, 2011 0 Comment

Tripoli/Cairo, March 13 (DPA) Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi continued his attempts to regain control of rebel-held territory Sunday, a day after the Arab League and the US announced their support for a no-fly zone over the North African country.

Rebel forces said they retained control of the western city of Misurata Sunday after attempts by government troops to retake the city by force, the news channel Al Arabiya reported.

Fighting reportedly broke out within the Khamis Brigade – commanded by the Libyan leader’s son Khamis Gaddafi – as it advanced upon Misurata, around 200 km east of Tripoli.

A gunfight broke out around 15 km south of the city, when some soldiers refused to accept orders to attack civilians, the report said.

More than 30 soldiers defected from the brigade and joined opposition forces, according to the broadcaster.

Clashes continued in the eastern part of the country, where anti-government forces have been strongest.

The city of Ras Lanuf saw more fighting a day after Gaddafi’s forces announced they had taken control there.

After losing ground in several areas, rebel forces in the east say they will not stop fighting until Gaddafi leaves Libya.

Fighting continued around 30 km outside the eastern city of al-Burayqah, a day after it was reportedly retaken by government forces.

Lebanon, a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, requested a meeting of the body to discuss imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, Al Arabiya reported.

The request was made on behalf of the Arab League, which decided to call for the no-fly zone Saturday.

The US welcomed the 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 was inspired by foreign agents.


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