Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gadhafi Getting Desperate as Rebels Close In

Forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi are getting low on fuel and munitions as separate rebel armies are closing in on Tripoli, prompting Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to predict today the Libyan despot's "days are numbered."

In a sign that may prove Gadhafi is getting desperate, his forces fired a hugely unreliable scud missile Sunday at the rebel army for the first time in the six-month war.

The scud was launched from near the coastal city of Sirte and aimed at  the rebel-held oil terminal city Brega. The short-range scud, which is not a guided missile, landed harmlessly in the desert. Gadhafi is believed to have a stockpile of more than 200 Scuds.

The rebels, meanwhile, are closing in on Gadhafi's last real stronghold: Tripoli on three fronts. The rebels say they have taken control of most of the major battleground city Zawiya, about 30 miles west of Tripoli; Surman, 40 miles west of the capital; and Gharyan, 50 miles south of Gadhafi's power center.

"I think the sense is that Gadhafi's days are numbered," Panetta said at a joint appearance at the National Defense University in Washington with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Clinton called the NATO-Arab alliance fighting Gadhafi an example of "strategic patience" and the use of "smart power" to ultimately defeat an enemy.

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