Politeía Digest

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Libya: Rebels battle for road to Gaddafi hometown Sirte

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Libyan rebels are battling for control of the road leading to the heartland of government loyalists.

The rebel army has been moving rapidly westwards, but came under heavy attack on the approach to Col Muammar Gaddafi’s birthplace of Sirte.

Nato, which now runs the coalition action, has denied its strikes are to provide cover for a rebel advance.

Britain and France have urged Col Gaddafi’s supporters to defect “before it is too late”.

The anti-Gaddafi rebels have seized a number of key coastal communities and important oil installations in recent days, including Ras Lanuf, Brega, Uqayla and Bin Jawad.

Repeated ambushes

Earlier on Monday, the rebels said they had seized Sirte, but the BBC’s Ben Brown in rebel-held Bin Jawad says it is now clear their progress was halted before they reached Sirte.

They came under repeated ambush from government troops, says our correspondent.

Reports said bombardments of the road between Bin Jawad and Nawfaliyah sent the rebels fleeing back towards Bin Jawad.

“This is the front line. The army has stopped over there, we are stopping here,” one fighter told Reuters, indicating the road towards the town of Nawfaliyah.

AFP news agency says the shells fired at the poorly armed rebel convoy landed mostly on sand dunes.

“It won’t be as easy as we thought to take Sirte and then march on [the capital] Tripoli,” one rebel told the news agency. “But we won’t stop – we’ll advance. They can’t hold us up for long.”

AFP said the rebels had again begun to move cautiously towards Sirte, which is about halfway along the coast between Tripoli and Benghazi.

Russian criticism

On Sunday, Nato began taking over control of the coalition military action in Libya.

The mission had previously been under US command, with the alliance responsible for enforcing the no-fly zone and arms embargo.

The head of the Nato operation, Canada’s Lt Gen Charles Bouchard, has rejected suggestions that the coalition air strikes were to provide cover for the rebels to advance. Read more on BCC site.

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Written by Theophyle

March 29, 2011 at 8:09 am

Posted in BBC, Libya, Libyan War, Military

Tagged with , , , ,

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