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Libyan Revolutionary Fighters Claim Gains Against Qaddafi Forces in Misrata, EU Opens Office in Bani Ghazi

May 11, 2011

Rebels in Misrata: Gadhafi forces pushed back, airport retaken

May 11, 2011, 9:58 AM EDT

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) --

A Libyan rebel in the besieged western city of Misrata says Moammar Gadhafi's forces have been pushed back, leaving behind weapons and ammunition and losing control of the airport to the rebels.

According to a rebel who identified himself as Abdel Salam, rebels were in total control of the airport in southern Misrata on Wednesday after two days of fighting. Hesaid five rebels were killed and 105 injured.

"This is a major victory," he said.

Misrata's rebels also are pushing west, toward the nearby city of Zlitan.

The only rebel-held stronghold in western Libya, Misrata is the country's third-largest city, about 125 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of Gadhafi's capital, Tripoli.

Rebels claim gains against Qaddafi forces in Misrata

By News Wires (text)

France 24, May 11, 2011


Libyan rebels say they have made gains against Muammar Gaddafi's forces in the key port city of Misrata as overnight NATO air strikes targeted parts of the capital, Tripoli. Misrata remains the only rebel-held city in western Libya.

 A NATO bombing blitz, which the alliance insisted was not aimed at Mu'amer Qadhafi, rocked Tripoli on Tuesday, as rebels in besieged Misrata claimed to be pushing back the Libyan strongman's forces.

NATO said that since the alliance took over military operations on March 31 to protect civilians from pro-Kadhafi forces, jets have conducted almost 6,000 sorties, including more than 2,300 strike missions.

Bombs were not dropped during all of those missions, figures showed, as officials insisted again the raids were not aimed at killing Qadhafi, who has ruled the north African nation for more than four decades.

"All NATO targets are military targets, which means that the targets we've been hitting, and it happened also last night in Tripoli, are command and control bunkers," Brigadier General Claudio Gabellini told reporters.

"NATO is not targeting individuals," he said via videolink from the operation's headquarters in Naples, Italy.

But asked whether Qadhafi was still alive, the Italian NATO general said: "We don't have any evidence. We don't know what Qadhafi is doing right now."

Early Tuesday jets had screamed in low over the capital, Tripoli, in a heavy bombardment lasting roughly three hours, an AFP correspondent said.

The blasts came after NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said time was running out for Kadhafi, who had to "realise sooner rather than later that there's no future for him or his regime."

Qadhafi survived a similar NATO bombing on May 1 in Tripoli, which killed his second-youngest son, Seif al-Arab, and three of his grandchildren.

Inspired by the uprisings in other Arab nations, rebels have been fighting since mid-February to oust Qadhafi but have met with stiff resistance despite gaining a foothold in the eastern city of Benghazi.

They have set up a National Transitional Council (NTC) and Mahmud Jibril, a senior figure in Libya's opposition, was to meet with key US lawmakers on Wednesday to discuss the conflict, senior US Senator John Kerry said.

Kerry, a Democratic ally of the White House who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he would make a public appearance with Jibril at 3:30 pm (1930 GMT).

"The Foreign Relations Committee and the American people are eager to learn more about the opposition movement in Libya and Mahmud Jibril is well positioned to answer our questions," Kerry said in a statement.

The United States has yet to recognise the NTC unlike France, Italy and Qatar, with officials in Washington saying they wanted "a clearer picture" first about the opposition body.

The rebels said meanwhile they had driven Kadhafi's forces back from around the western port of Misrata, which has been under loyalist siege for some two months, and were poised to make another thrust.

After heavy clashes, the rebels controlled a stretch of coast road west of Misrata, their last major stronghold in the west, prompting thousands to flee.

An AFP correspondent said the rebels had forced government troops about 15 kilometres (10 miles) from Misrata, advancing to Dafnia, and were readying to move on Zliten, the next major town on the road to Tripoli.

Haj Mohammed, a rebel commander, said "every day we manage to advance along the coastal road toward Zliten. Yesterday 15 kilometres (10 miles), today only two, but the advance is unstoppable."

Rebels were using shipping containers to shield themselves from loyalist fire, and bulldozers were pushing them forward as the advance continued.

Ahmad Hassan, a rebel spokesman in Misrata, said the insurgents had also "liberated" areas south and east of the city, killing many Kadhafi troops and seizing a large amount of weapons. Eighteen rebels and civilians were wounded.

The rebel claims could not be immediately verified.

Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency appealed to ships in the Mediterranean to treat all boats leaving Libya as being in need of assistance after reports that a vessel loaded with up to 600 people had capsized last week.

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said the number of flimsy and overloaded boats carrying people fleeing Libya was increasing.

"We believe that any boat from Libya should be considered at first glance as a boat that is in need of assistance," UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said.

"We believe that all of these boats are carrying people who are trying to escape, many of whom are weakened by conflict, please do not wait for a call of distress."

The United Nations said Monday nearly 750,000 people have fled Libya since the start of the conflict.

Special report: with Misrata's rebels

FRANCE 24 EXCLUSIVE Beleaguered rebels fight on in Misrata

LIBYA NATO jets launch new strikes on Tripoli targets
LIBYA Fight for Misrata intensifies as city faces critical shortages
LIBYA Gaddafi steps up assault on rebels
Date created : 11/05/2011


EU to open Benghazi office to support rebel council

By News Wires (text)


The European Union will open an office in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi to offer support to the Libyan rebels' political body, the Interim Transitional National Council, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (pictured) said Wednesday.

The European Union plans to open an office in the rebel-held Libyan city of Benghazi to facilitate assistance to the rebel council based there, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Wednesday.

"I intend to open an office in Benghazi so that we can move forward on the support we've discussed to the people... to support civil society, to support the Interim Transitional National Council," Ashton told the European Parliament, meeting in Strasbourg.

Ashton said EU support would include help for security sector reform and institution-building. "We want to help with education, with health care, with security on the borders," she said. Ashton reiterated an EU call for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to step down. "Let us ... be clear, Gaddafi must go from power -- he must end his regime."

LIBYA Rebels claim gains against Gaddafi forces in Misrata

LIBYA Libya contact group agrees to fund rebels in Rome

LIBYA - SPECIAL REPORT Braving shelling, fleeing civilians arrive in Benghazi

Date created : 11/05/2011




Rebels in Misrata: Gadhafi forces pushed back, airport retaken

As bullets fly and sanctions bite, Libya's once gilded economy stalls

UN chief Ban calls for immediate cease-fire in Libya, unimpeded access for aid workers

UN says close to 600 may be dead on migrant ship; Gadhafi may be complicit in flood from Libya

Wash. economics lecturer-turned-Libyan rebels' finance head seeking line of credit in US

First shipment of non-lethal US aid for Libyan rebels arrives in Benghazi

Rebel-held border crossing from Libya to Tunisian turns into conduit for wounded, refugees

Saudi Arabia refuses to allow Libyan rebel to fly over its airspace for visit to ally Qatar

Migrant workers risk lives getting to Libya, then escaping its war

In battle-scarred Libyan city of Misrata, volunteers search for unburied dead _ friend or foe

Clinton says US moving to free frozen Gadhafi regime assets to support Libyan people

UK foreign secretary orders expulsion of another 2 Libyan diplomats

Int'l court prosecutor will seek arrest of 3 Libyans for alleged crimes against humanity

AP IMPACT: Wily rebels in Libyan city of Misrata withstand siege by Gadhafi's forces

Car bomb explodes outside rebel headquarters in Libya, minor injuries reported

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