Latest News Update: Libyan Rebels Repel Overnight Assault by Pro-Qaddafi Forces
TRIPOLI, Libya (BBC News Blog) – Citizens with the rebel-held metropolis closest to Libya’s cash handed out sweets and chilly drinks to fighters Tuesday and celebrated having a victory march following they managed to repel an overnight assault by forces loyal to longtime leader Muammar al-Qaddafi.
Pro-Qaddafi forces also had been repelled because they attempted to retake two other opposition-held metropolitan areas: Misrata, Libya’s third-largest metropolis 125 miles east of Tripoli, and Zintan, seventy five miles south from the Libyan money.
The rebels are fighting to consolidate their gains because the worldwide neighborhood weighs new moves to isolate the longtime Libyan leader, which includes the chance of making a no-fly zone more than Libya. But Qaddafi loyalists have produced a number of improvements to attempt to reclaim locations near to his major stronghold of Tripoli.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned that Libya is at danger of collapsing right into a “protracted civil war” amid progressively violent clashes amongst the 2 sides.
Witnesses in Zawiya stated pro-Qaddafi forces battled rebels for 6 hrs overnight but couldn’t retake manage with the town thirty miles west of Tripoli. They stated the final of many assaults through the Qaddafi loyalists arrived at about three a.m. regional time.
“Allahu Akbar (God is Fantastic) for our victory,” citizens of Zawiya chanted because they paraded by way of the city’s most important square. Some carried on their shoulders an air power colonel they mentioned had just defected for the rebels’ facet.
“We had been concerned about air raids but that didn’t occur,” stated 1 resident, who spoke on problem of anonymity for concern of reprisals.
The Zawiya rebels, who consist of mutinous army forces, are armed with tanks, machine guns and anti-aircraft guns. They fought again pro-Qaddafi troops, armed using the very same weapons, who attacked from 6 instructions. There was no term on casualties.
“We won’t quit Zawiya at any cost,” stated 1 witness. “We know it’s considerable strategically. They are going to battle to obtain it, but we won’t quit. We managed to defeat them simply because our spirits are higher and their spirits are zero.”
The witnesses in Zawiya mentioned youths in the metropolis had been stationed about the rooftops of high-rise buildings within the town to keep track of the movements with the pro-Qaddafi forces and sound the warning if they believed an assault was imminent. In addition they spoke about generous delivers of money through the regime for that rebels to hand manage from the town back again to authorities.
Considering that the revolt from Qaddafi’s 41-year-old rule started two weeks back, his regime has released the harshest crackdown inside the Arab planet exactly where authoritarian rulers are dealing with an unprecedented wave of uprisings. Qaddafi has currently misplaced manage from the eastern fifty percent from the nation and a minimum of two metropolitan areas shut towards the funds — Zawiya and Misrata. He nevertheless retains the cash Tripoli as well as other close by metropolitan areas.
Additional than 140,000 persons have fled Libya to Egypt and Tunisia inside a expanding exodus through the chaos engulfing the nation, refugee officials mentioned.
U.N. refugee company spokeswoman Melissa Fleming stated Tuesday “the scenario is reaching crisis point” in the Libya-Tunisia border exactly where authorities say as much as seventy five,000 persons have fled Libya because Feb. twenty. Egyptian authorities say 69,000 individuals have crossed more than from Libya because Feb. 19.
Global stress to finish the crackdown has escalated significantly within the previous couple of days.
The U.S. moved naval and air forces nearer to Libya on Monday and stated all possibilities had been open, which includes patrols from the North African nation’s skies to safeguard its citizens from their ruler. The Obama administration is demanding that Qaddafi relinquish energy right away.
“In the decades forward, Libya could turn out to be a tranquil democracy, or it could confront protracted civil war. The stakes are higher,” Clinton informed Congress in Washington.
France mentioned it could fly help for the opposition-controlled eastern 50 percent with the nation. The European Union imposed an arms embargo as well as other sanctions, subsequent the lead from the U.S. plus the U.N. The EU plus the U.S. have also talked concerning the chance of making a no-fly zone more than Libya.
Having said that, Russia’s leading diplomat ruled out the notion as “superfluous” and mentioned globe powers ought to as an alternative concentrate on totally employing the sanctions the U.N. Safety Council accepted more than the weekend. Other people recommended the tactic — employed efficiently in northern Iraq and Bosnia — to stop Qaddafi from bombing his personal people today. But Russia’s consent is needed being a veto-wielding member from the Safety Council.
Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador towards the United Nations, on Tuesday urged Qaddafi to look at exile, stating she’s apprehensive the African nation could plummet right into a “humanitarian catastrophe.”
“It’s critical that he get off the stage,” Rice mentioned advised CBS on “The Early Exhibit.”
She stated that exile “may be an alternative that he seems to be at.” However the ambassador extra that not even that situation would inoculate Qaddafi from probable prosecution “for the crimes that he and these closest to him have committed.”
In Misrata, pro-Qaddafi troops who manage component of an air base to the city’s outskirts attempted to advance Monday. Nonetheless they had been repulsed by opposition forces, who integrated citizens with automated weapons and defected army models allied with them, 1 from the opposition fighters stated.
No casualties had been noted as well as the fighter claimed that his facet had captured 8 troopers, such as a senior officer.
The opposition controls a lot of the air base, and also the fighter stated dozens of anti-Qaddafi gunmen have arrived from farther east in current days as reinforcements.
In Zintan, citizens stated an assault by pro-Qaddafi forces Monday evening was the 2nd given that the town fell in rebel palms late final month. But, they additional, Qaddafi’s loyalists had been bringing in reinforcements, probably to stage a significantly larger assault in the town.
They stated rebel forces also had been in manage of the close by location recognized because the Arab Mountain Line that consists of many towns that consists of the modest towns of Lanut, Kikla and Kabo.
In Zawiya, an Linked Press reporter noticed a huge, pro-Qaddafi power massed about the western edge from the town Monday evening, with about a dozen armored autos together with tanks and jeeps mounted with anti-aircraft guns.
An officer stated they had been from your elite Khamis Brigade, named soon after 1 of Qaddafi’s sons who instructions it. U.S. diplomats have stated the brigade will be the best-equipped power in Libya.
“We had been capable to repulse the assault. We broken a tank with the RPG. The mercenaries fled immediately after that,” stated a resident, who spoke on problem of anonymity for concern of federal government reprisals.
He mentioned Qaddafi known as Zawiya’s influential tribal leader Mohammed al-Maktouf and had warned him that if your rebels do not depart the city’s most important square by early Tuesday, they’ll be hit by warplanes.
Citizens of Tripoli mentioned the town was relaxed Tuesday but that some citizens had been anxious more than what’s observed there like a expanding opportunity of foreign intervention.
“People are apprehensive about foreign intervention,” mentioned 1 resident who spoke on problem of anonymity since he feared reprisals. “Many Libyans see this being a conspiracy which will lead into dividing Libya to an eastern and western sectors. There is going to be massacres.”
On Tuesday, Qaddafi’s regime sought to indicate that it absolutely was the country’s only legit authority and that it continued to really feel compassion for regions inside the east that fell beneath the manage of its opponents.
A complete of eighteen trucks loaded with rice, wheat-flour, sugar and eggs left Tripoli for Benghazi, the country’s 2nd biggest town 620 miles east with the funds. Also within the convoy had been two refrigerated automobiles carrying healthcare materials.
The convoy was met having a modest pro-Gadhafi demonstration because it created its way from Tripoli. “God, Qaddafi, Libya and that is it,” chanted the demonstrators.
“The state is incredibly generous with all the men and women,” stated 22-year-old Ahmed Mahmoud as he watched the convoy.
In Benghazi, the epicenter with the opposition-controlled east, activists stated that they had no objection towards the imposition of the no-fly zone more than eastern Libya, but had been divided regardless of whether to acknowledge relief in the Qaddafi regime.
“Qaddafi’s air power can be a significant menace to us,” mentioned attorney Nasser Bin Nour. “We will welcome a no-fly zone on Qaddafi’s warplanes more than the entire of Libya. The one factor we object to is foreign troops on Libyan soil.” mentioned Bin Nour, who mentioned several inside the metropolis wouldn’t oppose shelling the positions of pro-Qaddafi forces by foreign warships or planes.
Yet another Benghazi activist, Najlaa al-Manqoush, echoed Bin Nour’s feedback on foreign help, but pointed out that to acknowledge the relief materials sent Tuesday through the regime would support Qaddafi’s propaganda machine.
“We reject any try through the regime to beautify its picture inside the media,” she stated. “We are a lot smarter than that. We take all of the help they deliver us from pleasant nations, although not from Qaddafi.”
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