Monday, June 27, 2011

Rebels on 'Third Front' Move Within 50 Miles of Tripoli

Rebels battling on Libya's western front claim they have moved to just outside the town of Bair al-Ghanam only about 50 miles from Tripoli after a string of victories in the Nafusa Mountains.

On paper, the western offensive is part of a potential pincer movement to take Tripoli, but the other army required to pull off the maneuver is hung up in the east, mainly massed in Ajdabiya.

A third front exists in rebel-held Misurata, where at least two lightly armed brigades have taken the city but may not have the troops to pull off a 100-mile march without linking up with the larger force toy the east.

The latest fighting comes amid back-channel talks between surrogates for the rebels and Gadhafi that are most likely doomed to fail unless Moammar Gadhafi and his family agree to step down and leave government. Gadhafi made another offer to hold elections, but the rebels and NATO again rejected the idea as being too little too late.

The Nafusa Mountains campaign does not get much attention, but the rebel forces in recent weeks have been pushing Gadhafi forces back towards Tripoli.

Communications among the organized fighters as well as the Tripoli underground have been difficult. The rebel groups are not organizing via the Internet or text messaging as the earlier revolutionaries in Tunesia and Libya.

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