Friday, March 4, 2011

Rebels fight Qadhafi forces over Libyan oil port

BENGHAZI, March 2, 2011

Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi battled government opponents for control of a key oil installation and an airstrip on Wednesday on the Mediterranean coast in a counter-offensive against the rebel-held eastern half of the country.

The fighting was centred on the oil facilities at Brega, which the opposition has held for days. In the morning, witnesses reported that it was retaken by a large convoy of pro-Qadhafi forces. But hours later, witnesses on the outskirts of Brega said fighting resumed.

They said some of the regime forces were surrounded by rebels. The sound of screaming warplanes and the crackle of heavy gunfire could be heard as the witnesses spoke to The Associated Press by phone. Opposition fighters at checkpoints outside Brega said the opposition had retaken the oil facilities and the airstrip.

Brega lies at the western edge of the swathe of opposition-controlled territory of eastern Libya. At the nearby rebel-held city of Ajdabiya, pick-up trucks full of anti-Qadhafi fighters carrying automatic weapons, along with a tank, sped out toward the oil port, 70 km away.

At the same time, Ajdabiya's people geared up to defend the city, fearing the pro-Qadhafi forces would move on them next. At the gates of the city, hundreds of residents took up positions on the road from Brega, armed with Kalashnikovs and hunting rifles, along with a few rocket-propelled grenade launchers. They set up two large rocket launchers and an anti-aircraft gun in the road.

Ahmed Dawas, an opposition fighter at a checkpoint outside Brega, said a large force of pro-Qadhafi fighters in about 50 SUVs descended on Brega shortly after sunrise and swept over the facility, taking the airstrip as warplanes struck nearby targets. But later, he said, anti-regime fighters from Ajdabiya and from Brega's residents flooded in and took back it back.

There was no immediate word on casualties.

News From:

No comments:

eXTReMe Tracker