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The Battle for Libya

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Libyan Rebels Tighten the Noose around Gadhafi's Regime

August 16th 2011

Libya Topics - Libyan freedom fighter
Libyan anti-Gadhafi rebel

Just a day after dictator Muammar Gadhafi launched a SCUD missile into the Libyan desert, rebels in the oil-rich country were threatening to isolate the capital, Tripoli, on August 16 as they captured key towns to the south and west of the city and work to cut off supply routes in their bid to oust the decades-old regime. The rebels claim to control most of Zawiya, a strategic town 50 kilometers west of Gadhafi's power base in Tripoli.

Rebel fighters entered Zawiya on August 13 in their closest approach to the capital since government forces crushed Zawiya's rebel movement in the early weeks of the uprising. Gadhafi’s forces exchanged fire with rebels in Zawiya on August 15, trying to push them back from the town center.

The irregular rebels also claim to have captured the towns of Surman, 60 kilometers west of Tripoli, and Gharyan, 80 kilometers south of the capital. Their claims could not be independently verified. Control of Zawiya, Surman and Gharyan would allow the rebels to cut off Tripoli from a key highway to the south and another leading west to Tunisia.

As for the SCUD missile, a US military source said that the August 15 launch was the first so far in the fractious conflict. The source said that Russian-made missile landed in the desert about 80 kilometers outside Brega. Libyan forces and the rebels have battled over that strategic oil port city for months.  NATO and US air forces have targeted Libyan scud missile facilities and air defense sites out of concern that Gadhafi would use the missiles to target areas beyond government control.
Signalling further interior divisions in Gadhafi’s regime, a senior Libyan Interior Ministry official flew to Egypt with nine family members  on August 15. Nassr al-Mabrouk Abdullah and his relatives arrived in Cairo on a private jet from the Tunisian resort island of Djerba. Abdullah is believed to be a deputy interior minister. He entered Egypt on a tourist visa and did not meet any official Libyan representatives in Cairo. This is the latest in a series of high level defections.

News report say that Gadhafi's aides met Libyan rebels at a local hotel on August 14. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Libya envoy Abdul Ilah al-Khatib arrived in Tunisia on the following day to join the talks between the two sides. In an audio message broadcast on Libyan state television on August 15, Gadhafi urged his people to fight to "to liberate Libya" from rebels who began their uprising in February to end his 42-year rule. He called the rebels "traitors" and denounced NATO as a "colonizer" for staging airstrikes in support of the uprising.

Cutting Edge Senior Correspondent Martin Barillas also edits Speroforum.com
 


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