Friday, July 8, 2011

With NATO's Help, Rebels Again Advance Toward Tripoli

The Libyan rebels are a step closer today to their dream of a pincer maneuver that would lay siege on Moammar Gadhafi's forces in Tripoli on two fronts -- a move that would also likely trigger an uprising by that city's sleeper underground. 

NATO warplanes bombed Gadhafi's armored columns near the garrison city of Gharyan southwest of Tripoli, allowing the rebels' French-armed Nafusa Division to advance within 50 miles of the capital, Agence France Press reported.  

To the east, at least two brigades from Misurata moved within eight miles of Zlitan, another heavily fortified Gadhafi stronghold.

"The rebels are waiting for NATO backup or for Gaddafi forces to run out of ammunition to make a move to take the city centre," a rebel sympathizer said in an email sent to Reuters.

The main rebel army's tactics have become much clearer in recent days. While they  get a bad rap for getting hung up along the coastal oil patch towns around Brega to the east that force is in fact occupying Gadhafi loyalists that otherwise would be engaged in Misurata. 

The eastern army got a boost overnight when NATO warplanes struck oil depots at Brega, cutting off needed fuel supplies for Gadhafi's lingering forces.

"By depriving Gadhafi of fuel we are depriving him of mobility," British Navy Rear Adm. Russ Harding told The Independent of London. "We have seen his forces drive deep down into the desert to pick up supplies, pick up ammunition."

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