Saturday, March 26, 2011

Rebels Take Key City of Ajdabiya

Updated 11:15 p.m. est

There are reports tonight that Moammar Gadhafi's forces pulled back further west, ceding the oil port of Brega west of Ajdabiya to the rebels marching to expand their territory under the cover of coalition jets and Tomahawk cruise missiles.

“We are in the centre of Brega,” Abdelsalam al-Maadani told AFP by telephone. “Gaddafi‘s forces are on the retreat and should now be at Al-Bisher, west of Brega.”

If reports are accurate, rebels recaptured Brega after withdrawing from the city March 13.

Earlier, the rebels captured the strategically located city of Ajdabiya to the east.

“We’re succeeding in our mission," President Obama said in his weekly Saturday morning address recorded before word of the rebel conquests.


For the first time since the Libyan opposition inherited the greatest air force in the world more than a week ago, the rebel army launched an offensive today that captured the key eastern city of Ajdabiya.

"Without the planes we couldn't have done this. Gadhafi's weapons are at a different level than ours," said Ahmed Faraj, 38, a rebel fighter from Ajdabiya. "With the help of the planes we are going to push onward to Tripoli, God willing."

In Misurata, truckloads of snipers were seen getting out of vehicles outside that city and moving towards positions where they could fire on rebels and civilians, an eyewitness told CNN. Coalition strikes pushed Gadhafi's armor out of Misurata, but the snipers have been difficult to target and disperse.

And in a sign that Gadhafi's brutality against civilians has not ceased, a Libyan woman ran to a hotel housing reporters today in Tripoli and told journalists she had been raped and beaten by the despot's thugs. There is video of her being dragged away by Gadhafi's secret police here from CNN.

Rejuvenated rebel forces launched their first offensive since they were nearly wiped out last weekend by Gadhafi's forces. French warplanes ended Gadhafi's forces of destroying the rebel army in the initial coalition mission. Marine Harriers mopped up following days.

Ajdabiya is considered to be the gateway to the de facto rebel capital, Benghazi. Conversely, the rebels can now move forces forward and use Ajdabiya as a springboard to eventually move on Tripoli.

French and British warplanes yesterday hammered Moammar Gadhafi's forces in Ajdabiya, taking aim at government artillery and armor after the Libyan dictator refused to agree to a ceasefire. The air attacks softened up Gadhafi's forces, allowing the outgunned rebels to win the importantant battle.

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