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Posts Tagged ‘Ajdabiya’

US- NATO Bombings continue as hundreds die and thousands flee

Posted by Admin on March 27, 2011

Global Research, March 27, 2011

Libyan operation continues as hundreds die and thousands flee

Coalition forces leave Colonel Gaddafi‘s air defense in tatters, but on the ground tensions remain high; according to reports, at least 114 people have been killed in the first four days of the operation while 300,000 have already fled the country.

Saturday was marked by the rebels gaining control over Ajdabiya – a key gateway to the oil reserves in the country’s east. Unconfirmed reports also claim the rebels have advanced beyond Ajdabiya, toward the town of Brega.

The victory marks the first major turnaround in the uprising, and many believe it could not have been achieved without the international air strikes on Gaddafi’s troops.

On Friday, British and French planes destroyed Gaddafi’s artillery battery and armored vehicles located in and around Ajdabiya.

Saturday, on the outskirts of Misrata, allied aviation initiated an attack on forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi that had been shelling the city occupied by rebels.

Rebel forces had been struggling for over a week to recapture some of the towns in the East that they had lost. But the road to Tripoli is lined with government forces, and the fight on the ground is intense.

The US military command claims allied forces are currently focusing on ruining the communications and supply lines between Gaddafi’s military units, not bombing the cities themselves and risking the lives of civilians, AP reports.

The rebel’s political front – the Transitional National Council – addressed a letter to the French government, thanking its military forces for their help in containing the loyalist forces.

The people of Libya consider you their liberators,” the statement reads.

The letter further relays the rebels’ desire to carry on the fight without international help.

However, the question of civilian deaths on the ground remains a major issue. Libyan state television is continuously reporting that the number of civilian deaths stands at more than a hundred, while people in the capital city remain particularly worried.

In Tripoli people woke up to fresh explosions amid fears of more bloodshed on Saturday, as three explosions rocked the area in and around the suburbs. For the third straight night the suburb of Tajura was hit. Also, the town of Zliten which is 160 kilometers to the East of Tripoli was hit with air strikes. The coalition air force insists that it is targeting important facilities of Gaddafi’s air force.­

At a short overnight press conference, the Libyan government’s spokesperson announced that at least 114 people have been killed and 445 injured in the first four days of the coalition’s week long series of air strikes. It was unclear whether these deaths and injuries were actually civilians or fighters, and ascertaining exactly who is who on the casualty list remains a problem. The people are frightened of increasing death tolls among civilians and soldiers alike.

The American military has announced that the coalition has fired 16 Tomahawk missiles and flown 153 air sorties in the last 24 hours.

NATO to take over coalition leadership

NATO is gearing up to replace the US in leading the campaign in Libya. It has been agreed that the alliance would take control of the mission on Sunday night. The fundamental question as NATO moves forward to lead the coalition is whether or not its involvement will result in an increase of casualties.

Russia’s top general, Nikolay Makarov, said NATO might even go so far as to resort to the use of ground troops if it aims to overthrow Gaddafi in the end, because the coalition’s “aerial operation seems to have yielded no results.”

Meanwhile, coalition forces have supplied NATO with an additional 25 warships and submarines, as well as 50 fighter jets to help enforce a naval blockade and prevent weapons and mercenaries from entering Libya.

The operation, dubbed “Unified Protector”, was launched on Wednesday and involves the UK, US, Canada, Turkey, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands and Greece.

“The NATO ships will be located in international waters, without entering the territorial waters of Libya. Although the alliance cannot cut off all the roads to this country, it can block the most direct and obvious one – the delivery of weapons to the country by sea,” ITAR Tass news agency cited the statement.

Fabrizio Tassinari from the Danish Institute for International Studies says the operation in Libya is proving to be another key test for the EU and NATO, and there is no sign of how it will conclude.

“Definitely there is no clear understanding of what the endgame of this mission is supposed to be,” he says. “The idea of ground troops which has been voiced by some of the coalition forces is not something that was mentioned in the UN Resolution [1973]. So clearly that would be a step beyond what some of the parties, especially from the Arab world would like to see.”

“Also, because if the idea of ground troops becomes actual, the objective would become regime change rather than protecting the civilian population. In a way you can argue – if ground troops are not considered, the only other option by enforcing the no-fly zone is really to try and give the opposition a fair chance to overthrow Gaddafi by their own means. So they are in a whole different ball game as to looking at various options of supporting the opposition. But clearly ‘ground troops’ is not one of them, and I think the Libyan opposition or whoever is speaking for them at the moment is has been quite clear about that. They do not want Western ground troops on the ground,” Tassinari concluded.

Thousands of refugees flee the country every day

Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in the region has not improved much so far.

Tens of thousands of people are continuing to flee the country each day, looking for safety and better living conditions.

According to the UN, over 300,000 people have already left the country.

The main flow of refugees is occurring on Libya’s western border with Tunisia, however many people have also escaped to Egypt.

People want to stay in bordering countries to see what happens next, waiting for things to settle down.

Families fleeing from Benghazi say the humanitarian situation in the city is critical and claim they decided to leave not because their homes had been destroyed, but simply because they did not feel safe anymore.

Security has been strengthened in many Egyptian cities on the border with Libya, with soldiers and tanks patrolling the streets and providing law and order. It remains unclear whether the army’s presence is related to the military operation in Libya or the political unrest in Egypt itself.

Also, while several weeks ago the Libyan-Egyptian border was being enforced only by the Egyptian side, now it is being patrolled by both countries; there are representatives of the so-called National Police on the Libyan side.

Thus, it may seem that the opposition is gaining some control over the country and slowly implementing some discipline.

However, judging by the number of refugees, the situation within the country has not improved much and the goal of the military operation, which claimed making the lives of the civilians safer as its objective, has not yet been fulfilled.


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Libyan forces bombard rebels in the east and west

Posted by Admin on March 16, 2011

via Flickr”]Muammar al-Gaddafi  Mouammar Kadhafi  _DDC6346

By RYAN LUCAS and MAGGIE MICHAEL, Associated Press Ryan Lucas And Maggie Michael, Associated Press 26 mins ago

TOBRUK, LibyaMoammar Gadhafi intensified offensives in the east and the west Wednesday with relentless shelling aimed at routing holdout rebels and retaking control of the country he has ruled with an iron fist for more than four decades.

As Gadhafi’s forces gained momentum, the rebels lashed out at the West for failing to come to their aid.

“People are fed up. They are waiting impatiently for an international move,” said Saadoun al-Misrati, a rebel spokesman in the city of Misrata, the last rebel-held city in the west, which came under heavy shelling Wednesday.

“What Gadhafi is doing, he is exploiting delays by international community. People are very angry that no action is being taken against Gadhafi’s weaponry.”

The breakdown of rebel defenses in Ajdabiya, 480 miles (800 kilometers) southeast of Tripoli, threatened to open the gateway to the long stretch of eastern Libya that has been in the control of the opposition throughout the monthlong uprising. Its fall would allow regime forces to bombard Benghazi, Libya‘s second largest city and the de facto capital of the opposition, by air, sea and land.

Gadhafi’s forces continued shelling the city of 140,000 people overnight and throughout the morning with relentless artillery fire and little resistance from the rebels.

An activist hiding out in the city said the rebels were lightly armed but still managed to ambush a group of regime troops marching into the city on foot late Tuesday, but the victory was short lived. Artillery shelling was ongoing, he said.

“The rebels set a trap and managed to take over four tanks, but now I see none of them,” Abdel-Bari Zwei said when reached by telephone. “Ajdabiya is witnessing unprecedented destruction. This is the end of the city.”

Residents in Ajdabiya fled either to tents set up outside the city or 140 miles (200 kilometers) northeast to Benghazi.

“The shelling hasn’t stopped since last night. The residential areas are under attack,” Zwei said, adding that the hospital had been overwhelmed and many of the injured had to be taken to Benghazi.

The city was besieged from the west, where Gadhafi’s brigades were deployed from his stronghold of Sirte, and from the north with a warship in the Mediterranean Sea.

“The city is sealed off from the south, from the west and the northern Zwitina port by a warship,” he said.

Libyan state television aired calls for the opposition to stop fighting, apparently hoping to sway populations in the east away from support of the rebels.

Ajdabiya has been a key supply point for the rebellion, with ammunition and weapons depots. Until now, the Gadhafi forces’ offensive toward the east has battled over two oil ports on the Mediterranean Sea, and Ajdabiya is the first heavily populated city in the area they have tried to retake.

It was a major setback to the rebels, who less than two weeks ago were poised to march on Tripoli, the capital, and had appeared capable of sweeping Gadhafi out of power, inspired by successful uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. But the regime’s better armed and organized military has reversed the tide as efforts led by France and Britain to create a no-fly zone to protect the rebels foundered.

Oil prices rose to above $98 a barrel Wednesday in Asia as fears that clashes in Libya and the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain could further disrupt crude supplies outweighed concern Japan’s disaster will crimp demand.

Gadhafi warned rebels: “There are only two possibilities: Surrender or run away.”

He said he was not like the Tunisian or Egyptian leaders who fell after anti-government protests. “I’m very different from them,” he said in an interview published Tuesday in the Italian newspaper Il Giornale. “People are on my side and give me strength.”

In a separate appearance, Gadhafi addressed supporters in Tripoli late Tuesday, calling the rebels “rats” and blasting Western nations. “They want Libyan oil,” he said.

During his appearance, a crowd watching on a TV projection on a wall in Benghazi shouted curses and threw shoes at the image, in video broadcast live by Al-Jazeera satellite TV.

Gadhafi’s forces also launched an attack on Misrata — which for days has been under a punishing blockade, its population running out of supplies. The barrage came a day after the government recaptured the last rebel-held city west of Tripoli, solidifying his control over the coastline from the capital to the Tunisian border.

“There is coordinated shelling by Gadhafi’s brigades firing artillery and machine guns from three different city entrances,” rebel spokesman Saadoun al-Misrati said, speaking by satellite phone.

He said the shelling began at 7 a.m. and regular telephone lines had been cut.

Europe and the United States, meanwhile, were tossing back and forth the question of whether to impose a no-fly zone that the opposition has pleaded for.

On Tuesday, top diplomats from some of the world’s biggest powers deferred to the U.N. Security Council to take action against Libya, as France and Britain failed to win support for a no-fly zone in the face of German opposition and U.S. reluctance. France said the Group of Eight agreed that a new U.N. resolution should be adopted by week’s end with measures to help Libyan rebels.

A U.N. resolution introduced Tuesday includes no-fly provisions. It also calls for increased enforcement of an arms embargo and freezing more Libyan assets, according to U.N. diplomats said who spoke on condition of anonymity because the text has not been released. One diplomat said the Security Council will be looking to see whether members of the Arab League, which is pressing for the no-fly zone, are ready to seriously participate in the establishment and operation of a zone.

The U.S. added sanctions Tuesday, banning business with Libya’s foreign minister and 16 companies it owns or controls.


Michael reported from Cairo.

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